UAICC National Executive member Alison Overeem at the 2019 President's Conference in Fiji.
The Australian Government’s Pacific Step-Up initiative aims to change the way Australia engages in the Pacific region, strengthening partnerships and enhancing commitments to help address the challenges facing Pacific people.
UnitingWorld has been consulting with Pacific partners and the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) on recommendations to guide genuine engagement and listening.
UnitingWorld made a submission to the Federal Government’s ‘Inquiry into strengthening Australia’s relationships with countries in the Pacific region’ in April this year.
Now through Micah Australia, in collaboration with UnitingWorld, the voice of First Peoples is being heard through the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in a further submission to the government.
Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the PCC, encouraged Micah to include the voice of First Nations Peoples in its submission. UnitingWorld’s National Director Dr Sureka Goringe invited Pastor Mark Kickett, Interim Chair UAICC, into the consultation process with Micah, together with Alison Overeem, National Executive member UAICC.
Several years ago, the Uniting Church was admitted as full members of the Pacific Conference of Churches after the then UAICC Chairperson Rev. Jeffrey R Garrawurra (dec) attended and addressed a PCC meeting. Until this time the UCA were observers. It was the First Peoples, the UAICC and their voice, that the PCC welcomed.
In a letter of support for the submission Pastor Kickett said: “The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress of Australia proudly stand in solidarity with our partner Churches in the Pacific.”
“We believe that our shared stories, cultural connectedness and colonising history connect us not just in a spiritual way but also in ways of Truth and Justice. We firmly believe in a God of Justice and as the peak body of First Peoples within the Uniting Church and it’s agencies, we affirm the submission from Micah as it also stands for Truth and Justice.”
Truth and justice for the Uniting Church and for our international partners require us to elevate the voice of First Peoples, through the voice of the UAICC and the Uniting First Peoples Network, which incorporates First Nations leaders from within our agencies.
Micah Australia is a coalition of Christian Churches, a powerful voice for the world’s most poor and oppressed. You can view the Micah submission here