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Quakers in Australia

Quakers & First Nations Peoples

First Nations Peoples Concerns Committee

 

Preamble

 

This we can say:

Millennia before Britain occupied Australia there were many complex indigenous relationships to country, which included the entire continent and its surrounding seas.
First Nations Peoples (FNP) were unlawfully and immorally deprived of their lands and liberties through force of arms, by the application of legal fictions such as terra nullius and the ignoring of specific articles from the British Crown for the protection of FNP rights.
The ongoing trauma felt by FNP as a result of past and continuing policies and attitudes of Australian governments and many non-FNP Australians, will be felt for generations to come.
It will take time, love and support for the healing of all. Reconciliation between FNP and non- FNP can only happen when we engage in compassionate listening, acknowledge past wrongs, and work together to create a process where the need for self-determination is acknowledged and respected.
The basic building block of a reconciliation process is created when trust, respect and deep relationships are undertaken by people engaging with each other, and learning from each other at all levels.
We believe that the process to achieve national reconciliation, freely agreed between FNP and non-FNP, should be supported by Quakers. This may include but not be limited to appropriate amendments to the constitution; and treaties, agreements and reparation documents at both national and regional levels.
Quakers will seek to create opportunities for FNP and non-FNP Australians to come together to develop a process of reconciliation and will bear witness to ensure fairness and equality for FNP if they choose to follow this course.

 

Role of Quakers in support of First Nations Peoples

Involvement in the reconciliation process.

What actions?

  • Acknowledge our advantage and our responsibility to educate ourselves with regards to history, culture, and spirituality
  • Individually and collectively reflect on right relationships with FNP
  • Make contact at a local level
  • Identify and offer tools, for example, AVP and other modes of non-violence training, governance, mediation and negotiation skills; and provide facilitation if and when requested.

We ask Regional Meetings to report to AYM about their work with FNP, reflecting on these questions adapted from Reconciliation Australia:

  • What might I do differently and what might Quakers do differently to build better relationships with the First Nations Peoples of Australia?
  • What might I do differently and what might Quakers do differently to have and show respect for the First Nations Peoples of Australia?
  • What might I do differently and what might Quakers do differently to bear witness to the ongoing conditions of First Nations Peoples’ health, education, land rights and other areas related to self-determination?

 

Access full paper here

[Adopted by Australian Quakers at Yearly Meeting 2015]

 

'Coming Right Way'

Coming Right Way: 'doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly' in Australia by the late Susannah Brindle was published in 2002 as part of the Emu Feathers Series by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia.
Susannah writes: 'Anyone, anywhere can "Come Right Way". If "Reconciliation" is about coming into right relationship with Aboriginal Peoples, "Coming Right Way" is an important pre-condition of this process.'

Access the full paper here.

Friends and Indigenous Peoples

Backhouse

A testimony to social justice and racial equality has been part of the Quaker witness to the world since the inception of our Religious Society of Friends in Britain in the 17th century ...

In 1691 William Penn signed a treaty of friendship with the Delaware tribes of American Indians, arranging for fair payments for lands taken…John Woolman, in 1756 persuaded Quakers in Philadelphia to pay for land stolen from the Indians by others.

In the 19th century, two British Friends, James Backhouse and George Washington Walker (pictured right) travelled through the Australian colonies and were forthright in their statements to influential figures in Australia and Britain concerning the cruelty and injustice meted to the Australian Aborigines, especially urging payment for land taken from them.

(From paragraph 5.22 of this we can say; Australian Quaker life, faith and thought, 2003.)

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