Salvo Academy: ‘Our Shared History’ Discussion Questions

Our most recent Salvo Academy Event featured The Salvation Army’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group. We enjoyed learning from them, and joining them as they had a yarn. Below are some of the key points that came out of the discussion.

How can we engage our Indigenous brothers and sisters in our local communities?

“It’s about the attitude that we take. Your attitude can be saying so much to people and I think that we need to realise that we’re all brothers and sisters. Let’s just share some great stuff together, be involved with each other, listen to each other, yarn a lot more together. If we do that we’ll find as we move along in all our ministry that it will grow and develop to such a tremendous level within our wider community. We just need to let go and let God do what he wants to do in our lives.”
– Uncle Vince –

“Just being genuine. Having a better understanding of the history, the true history and our shared history of our country. A lot of it’s about just being authentic, listening to people like you would to anybody in general. But we’ve got to ask ourselves a question, if we don’t have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our work places or in our programs we’re delivering then maybe we need to rethink how we’re doing that.”
– Aunty Shirli – 

“Love genuinely and remember that relationships take time. Any relationship takes time and for people that have been hurt and let down before sometimes it takes a bit longer.  It’s starting a conversation, it’s waiting and listening, it’s taking time and realising that it may take years to build good relationships and sometimes it might happen overnight and sometimes it won’t but it’s worth the effort.”
– Major Sandy Crowden – 

How do we make sure the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are heard?

“We have to advocate that Aboriginal voices are heard. As a nation we want to see that Aboriginal voices are heard in any matter that impacts on them.”
– Aunty Shirli –

“By knowing about indigenous activism and praying about that, and we can get involved and see where they are leading the way and think about whether there is a better way that we can support them as Salvationists and as a community.”
– Major Marion Weymouth-

“There’s scars on the land wherever you care to look and there is a scar on the soul of this country. I believe the Aboriginal people managed to take care of the land and the country for 60,000 years and we managed to stuff it up pretty quickly so I think you’re absolutely right, we should be listening to their voices. We’ve got Salvation Army places all over the country and if we are actually willing to raise up the voices of the Aboriginal people then we build a powerful voice together. But we have to get it right as an organisation and hear the voices of the aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples first. We need to look at our own backyard and look to see what we need to do better. We need to make sure that we are working hard to educate ourselves, building relationships,  and finding ways to include Aboriginal people’s voices, not just our own voice.”
– Major Sandy Crowden –

How do we have good conversations without imposing our own point of view?

“In Western culture there’s an innate tendency to want to interject. Yarning involves pulling back that natural tendency to want to break into conversations. To actually listen and learn is a different mode of thinking… Reverse your situation so that you’re not dominating and allow the leading to come from somewhere else.”
– Major Marion Weymouth –

“We live in this time in history when we have the great privilege of learning from theologians who have developed their understanding of God over thousands, and thousands and thousands of years. If we are able to sit in that position as student and guest to great hosts I think that we will find that we will all get to look through a new lens and we will get to see a new image of God that is far bigger than I think William Booth imagined back then in England. I think that as we listen to God’s revelations through other people’s eyes we get a clearer picture of God.”
– Major Sandy Crowden –

“One of the important things in dealing with Aboriginal people throughout Australia when we are having ‘loose-around the edges’ conversations, a bit of yarning and laughing about stuff, you need to be listening because that’s where the real stuff happens. Be careful that you don’t misread what’s being said. Think about the underlying thing that’s coming out of that. It’s when we have that respect for each other and you say, ‘look brother I’m not quite sure what you’re saying but I reckon if we spend a little bit more time together I reckon you’re going to help me understand some stuff and I’m going to help you. Aboriginal people have been expected to come over on your side and understand and learn your way of life, what we’re saying to Australia is can you take the time to do the same and sit down cross-legged in the dirt with us and have a little bit of a yarn with us and share a bit of story with us and can we tell you a couple of stories. That’s where it will all grow and develop.”
– Uncle Vince –

How important is the discussion of Treaty?

“For me personally it’s very important. Sometimes it’s easy for people just to write stuff. We don’t want stuff that’s just written we want stuff we’re there’s action that lifts our people from the bottom of that socio-economic ladder to bring our people to another level and for us to have control over our affairs and to be able to work with government and work with other people. So that’s pretty important. A treaty could be a good starting point for us in this land of ours to have proper recognition and be able to move forward because while ever we hang on to all the political arguments and a whole lot of stuff, we’re not going too far at all.”
– Uncle Vince –

“I think it’s just recognising that we are the first people and we are the custodians of this land. Treaty to me would be giving respect and recognition of the actual traditional owners of that land the right to say what happens to that land. a treaty isn’t something that is going to mean that we’re going to take houses and land off people that already have those things. A treaty is just true recognition of the people that were first here. Treaty as far as I’m concerned is the government helping us to address the issues that are destroying our people and destroying this beautiful country of Australia. Treaty is not so much a handshake but a big hug to say that you’re the people that were placed here first and how can you help us improve this country and I just believe that’s what we’re here for, to help the wider community.”
– Uncle Harold-

“It’s about righting wrongs. For first Nation Peoples to be the most marginalised and disadvantaged in their own country, that’s a human rights issue and we have to be very mindful of a lot of things that go on in our country and decisions that are made that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, such as the Northern Territory Intervention and the cashless welfare card. The underlying issue of poverty is lack of economic prosperity and that means here we are in our own country and we are still the most marginalised and disadvantaged and the only way we can move around that is to work on the treaty and sovereignty and start giving lands back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
– Aunty Shirli-


*View the full video of Salvo Academy ‘Our Shared History – Stories of The Salvation Army & Indigenous Ministries’ on the Social Justice Facebook page

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