The Hon. Alastair Nicholson delivered an excellent speech last week on the issue of a lack of a Bill of Rights in Australia as well as the NT Intervention. It is quite a long speech so I have put a pdf on the website at http://www.ncca.org.au/files/Natsiec/Alastair_Nicholson_-John_Barry_Mem__speech__3_.pdf

One statement from the speech, amongst many excellent points, stands out to me:

“I think that as time passes it becomes clear that the intervention was an exercise in social engineering to destroy Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal attachment to their traditional lands and to force Aboriginal people into suburban agglomerations and adopt a white life style”. (Alastair Nicholson).

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The World Council of Churches (WCC) will be sending a Living Letters team to visit Australia from the 12th – 17th September 2010. The visit is in response to an invitation extended by the NCCA with the view to shed light on the human rights situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to show solidarity with the Indigenous people who feel their voices are not heard. The focus of this visit will be the impact of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

The invitation to the WCC was extended following a forum held in 2009 by NATSIEC. This forum brought together Indigenous Church leaders from around Australia to discuss the Australian Government’s NTER (click here for further details on the forum). The aim of the forum was to show solidarity with Aboriginal people in the NT, and to formulate a common response and plan for action. A key recommendation arising from that forum was to ask the NCCA to extend an invitation to the WCC to send a Living Letters team to visit the Northern Territory.

Living Letters are small ecumenical teams visiting a country to listen, learn, share approaches and challenges in overcoming violence and in peace making, and to pray together for peace in the community and in the world

A Living Letters team previously visited Australia in 1981 to assess the situation for Aborigines. They travelled around the country for three weeks and met with a wide number of individuals, communities and organizations. The 1981 report of this visit reflected the concerns, hopes, dreams and aspirations of Aboriginal people as heard by the Living Letters team. The report gave guidance to the Churches and hope to Aboriginal people. The independent and objective points of view were valuable to take to Government to highlight what was observed and the areas where Australia needed to do better.

NATSIEC welcomes the visit of the Living Letters team. The team of eight are Indigenous people from various countries and denominations. Delegates are coming from Bolivia, Ecuador,  Indonesia, Areatora/New Zealand,  The Philippines, The USA and Egypt and Australia.

NATSIEC will post daily updates to this blog during the visit.

For further information about WCC Living Letters click here.