We all have a part to play

“It seems to me that it is vital that there is strong and consistent approach to the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the US, to press them to stop blocking the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”  So writes Fr Kevin Dance CP from New York in this week’s lead article, which has arisen from the 5th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations.

The Permanent Forum is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

According to its mandate, the Permanent Forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the ECOSOC, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations, through the Council.  It raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system and prepares and disseminates information on indigenous issues.

The Permanent Forum, which first met in May 2002, holds annual two-week sessions. The Forum has 16 independent experts, functioning in their personal capacity, who serve for a term of three years as Members and may be re-elected or re-appointed for one additional term. Eight are nominated by governments and eight are nominated directly by indigenous organisations in their regions.

The Forum is not a voting meeting. The members, having considered the issues and listened to the opinions of Indigenous people and NGOs and others, send recommendations from the session to the Economic and Social Council. This organ accepts or rejects the recommendations and then passes them on to the General Assembly for its endorsement. The 61st General Assembly, under the presidency of Ambassador Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, of the Kingdom of Bahrain, will begin in New York in September.

Fr Dance believes that Australia, New Zealand and the United States will continue to lobby for the vote to be at least delayed and possibly defeated. Although he doesn’t think that the vote will be defeated when it finally gets to the General Assembly, he says the three nations can delay its passage, with the intent that it goes back into more negotiations.  It has been under negotiation for many, many years.

He says that it is important that the Governments hear from the people who vote them into power that there is dissatisfaction that they are blocking the rights of indigenous people who have for so long been discriminated against.

“Action back home in the National capital is important as a counterbalance to what happens at UN headquarters.”

As we gather in our churches and communities on Sunday, our prayers will be directed towards Australia’s Indigenous peoples in honour of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday.  Support your prayer by action:  contact you local Federal Member, and ensure that your parish and/or school justice group has the details, too.

A great week ahead will be made even better if you take some action on this.


Penny Edman




until June 29 Dr Sheila O’Dea visits the Diocese of Wagga Wagga

until June 30 Prophetic in a comfortable society, the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes’ Assembly, Adelaide

until July 2 Oxley Creek Water festival, Qld

until August 31 A world without polio:  the story of the global polio eradication campaign, Mary MacKillop Place Museum, Mount Street, North Sydney; daily 10am-4pm

28 Benefit gig for refugees in East Timor, Cape Live, Fitzroy, Melbourne; from 8.30pm.  Donation: $10 to benefit the Arte Moris Free Art School refugee camp that has housed up to 600 people from both East and West Timor.

Spirituality in the Pub:  Spirituality and Art; Moonah Cafe Bar and Bistro (Hobart); meals from 5.30pm; talks from 7.30pm.

29 Human Trafficking – Stop Slavery rally, Victoria Square, Adelaide; 12.30-1.30pm

How my theology has changed, with Revd Dr Noel Preston, for the Centre for Progressive Religious Thought; 40 Gillies Strreet, Curtain, ACT; 7.45pm,  $3 members, $5 friends.

30 Launch of the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction (AECSD), Trinity College, University of Melbourne; 5pm

30-July 2 Spiritual Directors’ conference, University of Melbourne.

40 hours of Eucharistic adoration, St Anthony’s Shrine, Hawthorne led by Capuchin Franciscan Friars with prayers for vocations and the success of WTD 2008; from 7.30pm


1-2 Dr Sheila O’Dea visits the Diocese of Bathurst

1-9 The Transmission of the Faith in the Family, 5th World Meeting of Families, Valencia, Spain.  Pope Benedict will attend, July 8-9

2 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

St Joseph’s Parish, Hobart, celebrates 50 years of Passionist ministry; Mass, 9.30am; Principal celebrant, Archbishop Adrian Doyle, while visiting priests will include the Passionists’ Provincial, Fr Denis Travers, CP, from Sydney.

Dialogue @ Lavender Bay:  Things I have found important in life, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, St Francis Xavier parish hall, 19 Mackenzie Street; 7.30-9.30pm

3-4 National symposium on Catholic Youth Ministry, Builders and Dreamers: Creating Sustainable Ministry with Young People, Sydney

4 Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability, a public forum to discuss the recently released White Paper on Australia’s overseas aid programme; Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne; 5.30-7pm.  RSVP Juliana Robinson 02 8572 5600 is essential. (further information: White Paper)

5 Intelligent Design Symposium, ACU School of Philosophy, The Christ Lecture Theatre, Victoria Parade, Melbourne.  Speakers:  Rev. Prof. Anthony Kelly CSsR, Prof. Janis Ozolins, Prof. Neil Ormerod.  Respondents:  Dr Peter Drum, Mr John Quilter, Mr Peter Coghlan. 9am-3.30pm.  Cost $50 (incl. morning tea and lunch). RSVP June 29 03 9953 3147.

Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability, a public forum to discuss the recently released White Paper on Australia’s overseas aid programme; Norwood Town Hall, Adelaide; 5.30-7pm.  RSVP Juliana Robinson 02 8572 5600 is essential. (further information: White Paper)

5-6 Dr Sheila O’Dea visits the Archdiocese of Melbourne

5-7 Christian Resources Exhibition, The Dome, Sydney Showgrounds

6 Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability, a public forum to discuss the recently released White Paper on Australia’s overseas aid programme; Perth Town Hall, Perth; 5.30-7pm.  RSVP Juliana Robinson 02 8572 5600 is essential. (further information: White Paper)

7-9 Australian Catholic Students Association national conference, Melbourne

Women’s Camp, around the camp fires in Kalang (near Bellingen). Bookings close June 26.  (information:  02 6655 0089)

8 The Heart of the Family in Crisis, a forum for women featuring the Hon. Justice Jenny Boland, Family Court of Australia, organised by the Catholic Women’s League, St Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Women and Sophia.  NSW Leagues Club; 10.30am-2.30pm.  (further information)

Earth Ministry Symposium - Dominion over nature: the implications for our local environment; Dunmore Lang College, North Ryde; 1-5.30pm

9 Women and Earth retreat hosted by Earthlink, St Vincent’s Centre, Nudgee, Qld; 10am-4pm



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