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‘Australia has a black history’: Indigenous leader Ravina Waldren wants Australia Day date change

Ravina Waldren

Indigenous leader: Ravina Waldren.

A BRISBANE indigenous Catholic leader has joined the call to change the date to celebrate Australia Day from January 26.

“I know it’s a day of celebration for some, but for Aboriginal people it’s a day of mourning,” Murri Ministry co-ordinator Ravina Waldren said.

“It’s actually a day for us to sit back, reflect and remember that Australia has a black history.”

Ms Waldren said NAIDOC Week in July would be a more appropriate time to hold an inclusive, national day of celebration.

“It just makes more sense to come together to celebrate the rich history and culture that we have here in Australia with the Aboriginal people,” she said.

On January 26, Ms Waldren said she would join her daughter and grandchildren in an indigenous rally at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane.

“We have a lot of prayer and reflection and speakers talking about the history of Australia and those who have struggled for the rights of Aboriginal people,” she said.

“How do we care for the stranger and love thy neighbour?”

Amid ongoing debate about when to celebrate Australia Day, Ms Walden is optimistic about new measures to build stronger parish links with the indigenous community by adopting a new reconciliation plan.

Ms Waldren described the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) as a significant step in the right direction towards healing for Brisbane archdiocese.

She hopes that in 2018 churches would introduce some of the key RAP protocols – including starting Mass by acknowledging traditional owners of local parishes and communities, and fitting churches and school buildings with commemorative plaques naming the traditional land custodians.

Other RAP measures include recognising cultural protocols at public events with “welcome to country” ceremonies performed by elders, and ensuring indigenous flags are flown in parish grounds and schools.

The RAP also aims to increase indigenous employment opportunities across the archdiocese, and introduce cultural competency training for clergy, staff and key archdiocesan personnel.   

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