June 28, 2011
The renowned quote of Lila Watson,Gangulu woman who grew up on the Dawson River in Central Queensland "If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." aptly describes the attitudes of mind and heart that are foundational to the work being done by the Sisters to strengthen their current commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Mary MacKillop's brother Donald was a Jesuit priest at the Daly River Aboriginal mission in the Northern Territory and Mary very much wanted to send Sisters to work there but this never happened in Mary's lifetime. Sisters of St Joseph though have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote, rural and urban communities ever since. As the Sisters plan for the future they have recently completed some research on how best to strengthen their commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Peoples. Ms Julie Morgan, Independent Consultant, conducted this research and the Leadership Team of the Sisters has fully endorsed the recommendation that the future commitment be expressed in an intercongregational entity.
The work to bring this into a reality has started and Sister Marianne Zeinstra rsj will takes up the position of Interim Manager by August. A Steering Committee of both members of interested Congregations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will guide the process.
At this early stage of development it is very clear that partnership will be a central tenant of a new, independent entity that some Catholic Relgious Congregations in Australia will join with Aboriginal and Torres Straint Islander peoples and organisations. Long-term development and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be a key focus with looking specifically at a multi-disciplinary approach to healing the trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders.