​Archdeacon Richard Condie and the Revd
Helen Dwyer

​The Revd Helen Dwyer and Archdeacon Richard Condie made a joint presentation on Reconciliation and the work towards a Reconciliation Action Plan to the Melbourne Synod, meeting at St Paul's Cathedral from 16 to 19 October..

Ms Dwyer said she had grown up in the Anglican Church and faith had been a very important part of her family history. She had not found out about her Aboriginal heritage until she was an adult; it had been kept hidden, for her mother and grandmother had lived in fear that if their children were discovered to be Aboriginal they would be taken away.

“While Aboriginal heritage can be denied and hidden as features are ‘bred’ out, an Aboriginal heart cannot be ‘bred out’,” Ms Dwyer said.

“All my life I knew I was Aboriginal, even though it was hidden. But the other things that can’t be bred out are the health implications of Aboriginal ancestry, like increased likelihood of Diabetes and heart disease. Parents are still choosing to not register their child’s birth as Aboriginal because of fear. Even as a well-educated woman,
I still hesitated before disclosing my Aboriginal heritage. It is imperative that we find ways forward in reconciliation so that all Australians can rejoice in the rich heritage of Aboriginal culture.”

A member of the diocesan Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group, Ms Dwyer said reconciliation is part of God’s plan: it was why Jesus was sent into the world, and it is part of being Christian. God’s desire is for us to be reconciled to Him and to one another.

Archdeacon Condie, who is Vicar of St Jude’s, Carlton, said that St Jude’s had been built on land gifted by the Crown, with no permission asked of its traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people. Influenced by a variety of factors – including the urging of Aboriginal Elder Aunty Jean Phillips and the changing mood since National Sorry Day – the parish, after a period of prayer and reflection, decided to erect a plaque as a constant reminder of the traditional owners. A thanksgiving service had been held in March this year and the plaque had been dedicated. An elder of the Wurundjeri people, Aunty Diane Kerr, had given a gracious welcome.

Ms Dwyer spoke of the RAP Working Group’s journey towards forming a plan. This should not be rushed and other reconciliation plans were being looked at. Anyone was welcome to join the group and input was welcomed.

An information sheet provided by the group was given to Synod representatives to take back to their parishes.