Preparing for A Day of Mourning

By Stuart McMillan, Advocate - Walking Together as First and Second Peoples

On Sunday 20 January 2019, Uniting Church Congregations will be able to join together in lament, recognising the tragic events of colonisation together with devastating effects for the First Nation peoples of Australia.

The observance of a “Day of Mourning” was endorsed by the 15th Assembly at the request of members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and will become an annual event in the UCA liturgical calendar.

We hope our schools and agencies will be encouraged to join congregations in this important remembrance. We all do so in the spirit of the covenant between the UCA and the UAICC.

A Day of Mourning is not a new concept in Australia. The first such Day of Mourning was held on Australia Day 1938, organised by the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) in New South Wales with support from the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) in Victoria to coincide with sesquicentenary celebrations.

On 20 January I for one, will be reflecting on the lie of terra nullius – the claim that Australia was a land that belonged to no one - and the devastating effects this declaration had on the First Peoples of this land, together with the generational legacies which still affect First Peoples today. For it is only through our lament and remembering that we can then together, First and Second Peoples, look with hope to the future.

I pray that one day the whole nation may, in a coming of age, fully accept this history and take a significant step towards healing for our nation.

Resources for the Day of Mourning will be available from the first week in December on the Assembly website.