Social Action Office
Indigenous Issues

Please note: As of 16 June 2008 this site will not be updated again until February 2009 as the SAO web manager is on sabbatical. To stay up to date with events and information, please subscribe to SAO Bytes (if you haven't done so already) by going to the Publications page.


Refresh Indigenous Australia

Click here for the SAO Refresh Australia! Campaign which includes
a Briefing Note: Refresh Indigenous Australia –
A future strong in culture, health and genuine partnerships


Act Now to Refresh Indigenous Australia

Aboriginal AustraliaPlease take action to ensure the issues facing Indigenous Australians do not get put on to the ‘back burner’ as the new Federal Government begins to implement its policies. Send a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Jenny Macklin (Minister for Indigenous Affairs) and your local member (if Labor). Urge the government to establish a new national Indigenous body and to work with that body to improve health, education and economic outcomes for Indigenous Australians.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday - 6 July 2008

NATSICC LogoThe Australian Bishops' Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People has released Liturgy Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. The liturgy resources, Celebrate the Living Spirit, will soon be available for download on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council website.

Bishop Brian Heenan says, "This year, 2008, will go down in the short history of our Australian Nation, as one of great significance for on 13 February 2008, the Prime Minister delivered an apology to Indigenous People for all the injuries that they suffered as a result of the European arrival and settlement in 1788. We, as a Church, must celebrate this milestone but also ensure that our Indigenous sisters and brothers feel welcome in our communities, our parishes and our dioceses."


NAIDOC Week - 6-13 July 2008

2008 Theme: Advance Australia Fair?

NAIDOC 2008 Winning PosterThe creation of the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) has its origins in the fight for Aboriginal rights that began to gather pace in the 1920s and 1930s. Its precursors were the Day of Mourning (26 January 1938) and Aboriginal Sunday that was observed the Sunday before Australia Day starting in 1940.

NAIDOC celebrates the survival of Indigenous culture and the Indigenous contribution to modern Australia. All Australians are encouraged to participate in NAIDOC Week activities.


National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day - 4 August

2008 Theme: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families – Nurturing Our Children to Flourish

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday graphicThe 2008 theme reinforces a message that we have to nurture our children to flourish. SNAICC doesn’t want kids just to be OK and do OK. We want them to flourish, achieve their greatest potential and enjoy the same quality of life and opportunity as all Australians. We have to set high expectations for children and for ourselves as those that look after them. (from the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care)

For more information go to National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day.


Christ and Culture Conference - 16-28 February 2009

Christ and Culture Conference CrossNATSIEC is pleased to announce the second Christ and Culture Conference which is to be held at Ballina NSW from 16 to 28 February 2009. The theme for this conference is Christ through Culture. You can stay up to date with the program at the NATSIEC website. The registration brochure is on the website now. Register early to take advantage of the early bird rate - early bird registration closes 15 December 2008.


Reading for Reconciliation – Brisbane

Reading for Reconciliation is a reading group with a difference! The purpose of the reading group is to expand knowledge, understanding and empathy of contemporary Indigenous issues. The group meets in the Loris Williams Room Level 1, State Library of Queensland on Sunday mornings 10.30am to 12.30pm at 6 weekly intervals. More information available from Helen Carrick.


Northern Territory Intervention – Call for Action

Indigenous Mother and ChildJoin in the National Day of Action on 21 June 2008 to urge the government to:
- Repeal all "NT Intervention" legislation
- Restore the Racial Discrimination Act
- Fund infrastructure and community controlled services
- Sign and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

21 June marks one year since the Howard Government announced the NT Intervention. The universal quarantining of welfare payments, the closure of many Community Employment Development Projects (CDEP) and the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal property has forced thousands of people from their communities into urban centres. Aboriginal people are experiencing shame and humiliation as they participate in segregated service delivery in Centrelink, in supermarkets and in schools.

In July the government will begin a review of the Intervention. A massive injection of funds and resources into communities is badly needed, but cannot come at the expense of basic human rights. Only an approach which respects self-determination will lead to improvements in community life.

Please print off the attached petition and circulate it in your workplaces, organisations and communities. The aim is to have thousands of signatures from all around the country. Return petitions to: Aboriginal Rights Coalition Sydney, PO Box 433, Newtown NSW 2042 by 14/06/2008.

ANTaR Seven StepsMore information is available from the following websites:

National Aboriginal Alliance
Darwin stands up in support of NT communities
Women For Wik


Little Children are Sacred Report CoverCombined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory have released a detailed and proactive response to the Federal Government's interventions to address child abuse in the Northern Territory which followed the Little Children are Sacred Report. The response paper has been developed in close consultation and collaboration with a wide range of organisations and draws on a wealth of knowledge and expertise. The paper is on the ACOSS website.

Amnesty International Australia has also launched an action campaign seeking to encourage the Federal Government to consult Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory about proposed action and to facilitate their participation in the process. Go to the Amnesty website for more information.

Important points made by the Inquiry included:

  • Child sexual abuse is serious, widespread and often unreported.
  • Most Aboriginal people are willing and committed to solving problems and helping their children. They are also eager to better educate themselves.
  • Aboriginal people are not the only victims and not the only perpetrators of sexual abuse.
  • Much of the violence and sexual abuse occurring in Territory communities is a reflection of past, current and continuing social problems which have developed over many decades.
  • Programs need to have enough funds and resources and be a long-term commitment.

It is impossible to set communities on the path to recovery from the sexual abuse of children without dealing with the basic services and social ills. It is our hope that no Aboriginal child born from this year on will ever suffer sexual abuse.

– Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson, Inquiry Co-Chairs


Women for Wik

Indigenous Woman and ChildWomen for Wik, a group of prominent Australian women, including Lady Deane, Tamie Fraser, Lowitja O’Donoghue, Helen Caldicott and Faith Bandler, have re-united to monitor the Federal Action in the NT. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to endorse their action through the Women for Wik website.


Sea of Hands LogoSea of Hands Online Campaign for Indigenous Health Rights

Click here to add your hand online to ANTAR’s Sea of Hands Campaign to support the health rights of Indigenous Australians.


Make Indigenous Poverty History

The Make Indigenous Poverty History Campaign was launched in Brisbane on Friday 20 October 2006 in the Sussex Street Uniting Church, West End. Rev Graham Paulson delivered the sermon and Graeme Mundine was the guest speaker. Click here for a brief report and some photos of the launch. Since then the SAO Indigenous Issues Circle has considered partnerships and future directions from the indigenisation of the eight Millennium Goals.

Click here for resources for the MAKE Indigenous POVERTY HISTORY campaign from the NATSIEC website. A Nine Days of Prayer leaflet is also available for use. This can be used at any time to pray in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Graeme MundineGraeme Mundine, Executive Secretary of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission, delivered the fifth annual Common Wealth for the Common Good Address in Brisbane on 17 October 2006. Click here for the full text of Graeme's address.

The general campaign Halving world poverty by 2015 has launched another video named “What can one Church do?” which may be useful to view in the future to assist with campaigning through church groups and particularly our own constituency.


Annual Report on Social Justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Social Justice Report CoverRead the HREOC annual reports on how Social Justice and Native Title policy is being implemented and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s reports highlight some concerns about the implementation of the new policy arrangements introduced in 2004. Click here for these reports.


Anniversaries along the road of 41 years
since the 1967 Referendum

Neville Bonner1971 11 June - Neville Bonner became the first Aboriginal Australian to hold a seat in Federal Parliament

1971 12 July – The Aboriginal flag was flown for the first time in Adelaide

1972 26 January - Aboriginal Tent Embassy established in Canberra

1975 11 June - The Federal Government ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination

1975 16 August - Wave Hill Station returned to Gurindji People

1975 30 September - Racial Discrimination Act proclaimed

1983 28 September - Death of John Pat in Roeburne Prison WA 1983 initiated the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

1985 26 October - Uluru handed back to traditional owners, the Mutijulu people

1988 12 June - Barunga Statement presented to Prime Minister Hawke by Aboriginal leaders

1990 5 March - Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) commenced

1991 15 April - Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission Final Report signed

1991 2 September - Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act

1992 29 May - Torres Strait Islander flag launched

1992 3 June - High Court Decision in Mabo Case

1992 10 December - Prime Minister Paul Keating's speech to launch the 1993 International Year of the World's Indigenous People

1993 21 December - Native Title Bill passed by the Senate

1994 1 January - Native Title Act commenced

1995 14 July Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Islander flag proclaimed "Flags of Australia"

1995 15 September - Racial Hatred Act assented

1996 23 December - Wik Decision

1997 25 May - Bringing Them Home Report released

2000 1 July - Voluntary Native Title Agreement between the Gunggari People and the Cowley family formalised after 4 years negotiation with State Government for a Nature Refuge Agreement

2005 16 March - Federal Parliament passed the ATSIC Amendment Bill, repealing provisions of the ATSIC Act and abolishing ATSIC

2005 30 June - Closure of ATSIC Regional Councils

2007 13 February - Australian Parliament's Apology to Indigenous People


Sorry Day 2008

A number of SAO staff members and partners participated in Reconciliation Week events including Sorry Day ceremonies around Brisbane and beyond on Saturday 26 May. Below are some photos from the ceremony at the Sherwood Arboretum.

Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum
Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum
Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum
Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum
Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum Sorry Day Ceremony at Sherwood Arboretum


Links to other websites on Indigenous issues:


Click here for the Reconciliation Archive


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