Voice. It's a Yes from me.
A reflection from Alison Bleyerveen after the recent UCA-Jewish Dialogue meeting
May 24, 2023
By Alison Bleyerveen, UCA member of the Dialogue Executive Council of Australian Jewry – Uniting Church in Australia Dialogue
“As always, I learnt a lot. It’s clear to me that voice is important to well-being."
My sister, Alison Overeem, was there and I loved seeing her face and listening to her speak from the heart about these things. It changed me. Listening always does.
Tom spoke of the work that is being done to revive sleeping languages all over this land, and the difference it makes to be able to express what is important and sacred in your own language.
He gave Wales, and the revival of Celtic languages, as an example that had built confidence and flourishing for all Welsh people, within the context of the UK. I found that so hopeful.
He spoke of the need for us to move beyond awareness of Aboriginal histories and ways of being in the world to an appreciation of them. Appreciation comes when these ways are welcomed as central to the way we all do things, when such wisdom shapes our response to the wicked problems and injustices faced by Aboriginal people and the communities they live within.
He spoke of the need to move beyond raising awareness of the gaps between First and Second Peoples in Australia, to appreciating and welcoming grassroots solutions that rest in traditional cultures.
He spoke about the money that goes into bureaucratic solutions and compliance that could be used on the ground more effectively.
In terms of truth-telling and Treaty, Tom felt that this would emerge generationally, and rested in Voice, and listening to Voice and responding to Voice. He said that a generation was 25 years, and that it might be two generations before we were ready for a treaty, but that a Voice, and all that means, was the way there. Especially in closing the gaps.
He was practical not ideological, nor political, about taking small next steps, and the way he thought a Voice to Parliament would support necessary change.
As always, I learnt a lot. It’s clear to me that voice is important to well-being. Silencing people is a great cruelty and leads to injustice. We have done this as a country in so many ways, and still use it as a power move in so many areas of Australian life. And particularly, we have done this, systematically, to Aboriginal people. It wasn’t accidental. It was deliberate.
It is past time that we moved beyond awareness and start listening and learning and acting in solidarity together. In small ways, I have seen and been a part of the transformation of young Aboriginal women at school when they get to tell their story, and they see and experience others appreciating and joining in with that.
Now we have to do this at the level where decisions are made. It’s now.
This reflection was originally shared on the Facebook page of the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle. To follow the conversation, join here.
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