Frank Estevao is a long term member of our church community and a Parish Councillor. Following Parish Council Meetings, members take it in turn to contribute to this forum. Frank is a passionate man of colour from a South African heritage, he has a particularly strong conviction for social justice and human dignity and so it is no surprise that he has a strong view on what has become a very topical issue both overseas and here in Australia. As a church it is important that we wrestle with these issues and ensure we are responding in ways that bring both understanding and Godly action.
Hello fellow parishioners.
Please bare with me for a few minutes. I feel motivated to use this forum to add my perspective on this “Black Lives Matter” issue. This is not a political issue; it’s a human rights issue.
Yes, I know much of the American drama has been splashed around all our TV’s, but as a member of my family stated, the movement should be just as strong close to home because the same issues exist on our shores. I won’t bore you with statistics about Indigenous life expectancy, disproportional incarceration rates and black deaths in custody (although it’s ridiculous that with all those hundreds of deaths in police stations and prisons in our country, not one person has been convicted).
It is easy to use our privilege to remove ourselves from the movement, but vital here in our communities is to highlight that change begins with discussions with our loved ones at the dinner table. I suggest that having uncomfortable discussions at home is the first step in addressing this issue and improving our society. The coverage emanating from the marches here as well as the USA provides us with that opportunity.
Having said that, however, I found a recent article from the Gold Coast Bulletin encouraging.
If you are finding the issue confronting and don’t know where to start or what you yourself can do to help locally, this is what I have learnt from listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and appropriately qualified academics in various media.
Demand that all your political representatives take to all their Zoom and face-to-face government discussions these three overdue but crucial requirements:
- The country needs Aboriginal people facilitating or heavily involved in autopsies carried out on Indigenous people who die in custody;
- We all need the federal government to facilitate a truth-telling session or two with Aboriginal Elders;
- Sincere truth-telling will dove-tail nicely into a “Makarrata,” a synonym for “treaty,” but means much more than that for Indigenous people. (Australia is the only country that does not have a treaty with its First Nations Peoples.)
Last but not least, if you have an interest in learning about the issue, just Google “First Nations Peoples.”
God’s blessings to you all,
Francisco “Frank” Estevao