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Truth Telling Which Leads to Healing 

Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking at a Truth Telling Day at the place of Cook’s first landing – Kamay Botany Bay National Park. The event was organised by a grassroots people’s movement, founded in 1997 and developed by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians working together to recognise the past and move freely together into the future. The hundred or so Australians who met together met in a spirit of goodwill and commitment to truth, justice and healing. 

a man and a woman smiling for the camera

Wendy Francis with Pastor James Dargin

a group of people posing for the camera

Wendy Francis with Pastor James Dargin and Pastor Carl Musch

It was a very positive morning, despite the fact that many sad truths about our shared history were spoken. Joseph Banks’ diaries were referred to, which detail Cook’s arrival to our shores. Detailing their first interaction with Aboriginal Australians, Banks diary includes the following revealing entries –  

text, letter
text, letter
text, letter

“… as soon as we approached the rocks two of the men came down upon them, each armed with a lance … They called to us in a harsh sounding language … shaking their lances and menacing, in all appearance resolved to dispute our landing to the utmost tho they were but two and we 30 or 40 at least.  

“In this manner we parlyed with them for about a quarter of an hour, they waaving to us to be gone, we again signing that we wanted water and that we meant no harm. They remained resolute so a musquet was fird over them, the effect of which was that the Youngest of the two dropped a bundle of lances on the rock at the instant in which he heard the report; he however snatched them up again and both renewed their threats and opposition. 

“A Musquet loaded with small shot was now fird at the Eldest of the two who was about 40 yards from the boat; it struck him on the legs but he minded it very little so another was immediately fird at him; on this he ran up to the house about 100 yards distant and soon returned with a shield.  

“In the meantime we had landed on the rock. He immediately threw a lance at us and the young man another which fell among the thickest of us but hurt nobody; 2 more musquets with small shot were then fird at them on which the Eldest threw one more lance and then ran away as did the other. 

“… we however, thought it no improper measure to take away with us all the lances which we could find about the houses, amounting in number to forty or fifty. They were of various lengths from 5 to 6 feet in length … all except one had 4 pronged header with very sharp fish bone….

Four of the original appropriated lances (spears) have remained, until very recently, displayed in a museum in the UK. 

It is only common sense that no present-day Australian, of any cultural background, can be held responsible for the actions of their forebears 253 years ago, or even 100 years ago. It is important, however, that as a nation, we confront our shared history, acknowledge the complexities and work towards a better future for all Australians.  

The Australian Christian Lobby are committed to this and we invite you to join us.  

Day of Healing  

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, a year after the tabling of the ‘Bringing them Home’ report which was the result of an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. 

But in a significant move, in 2005 the National Sorry Day Committee renamed the day to be the National Day of Healing. The motion for the change was tabled in Parliament by Senator for the Australian Democrats, Aden Ridgeway, himself an Aboriginal Australian. Launching the new day in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra on Wednesday 25th May 2005, Senator Ridgeway said, “the day will focus on the healing needed throughout Australian society if we are to achieve reconciliation”.   

We at ACL believe that the Christian church of Australia is well positioned to show the power of true healing, and we will be encouraging our supporters, our churches, as well as our parliaments and parliamentarians to support the National Day of Healing as it approaches and move forward with hope for all Australians into the future.  

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