BROOME Bishop Christopher Saunders has pleaded with Catholics to unite and create better living conditions for Australian’s in remote communities.
Bishop Saunders address to Catholic parishes, as the Church prepared to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People on July 5, focused on the plight of Indigenous communities and how government down funding had worsened their quality of life.
Due to a shortage in housing in remote communities were being forced into townships, where existing problems were being magnified, Bishop Saunders said.
“The crime rate in townships is far greater than in remote areas, as in serious drug abuse,” Bishop Saunders said.
“It is simply amazing how it is in this country that whenever governments overspend or income shrinks, it is always the poor who pay to rectify the fiscal shortfall.”
Bishop Saunders claimed rural Australia was in a depressed state, that indigenous should have the right to live on their original lands, instead of being forced into exile.
“There is no evidence to suggest that leaving traditional homelands for life in towns will benefit the people presently living in remote villages,” he said.
“When this nation realises that more rather than fewer resources are needed to meet the needs of Aboriginal people in this country, then and only then, will we begin to overcome the challenges before us.”
Bishop Saunders said there were portions of remote Indigenous population who lived above the poverty line, but the majority were resigned to defeat, adamant action and change was necessary.
“Non-Aboriginal Christians must stand in solidarity with their Aboriginal brothers and sisters, Aboriginal Christians are called to be determined, not to falter, no matter the obstacles that rise up to make a just way difficult,” he said.
“In faith and through prayer, the energy needed to seek justice, to find a positive way forward, is at hand.”