Australia’s religious and cultural landscape has changed significantly, post 1945, due to the results of changing immigration policies, which allowed different races and cultures into the country once they removed the White Australia policy. Thus it resulted in Australia’s religious landscape changing effectively from a monoethnic and monocultural land to a multiethnic and multicultural country. As a result the interfaith dialogue movement started and caused various impacts on multi faith Australia and its people post 1945. Ecumenism also is a new philosophical approach in the life of the church and Australian’s have supported the ideas that it offers. It has been mentioned that the differentiation in religion in Australia is not as important as Australians need to work together for survival which has turned to cooperative spirit in religion.
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Interfaith dialogues foundations, objectives, and strategies to achieve them include; aiming to build an understanding, good will and a sense of community between the people of different faiths and attempts to achieve this by addressing community issues together. It also aims to help different types of faiths to learn about each other to become more aware and to discover more about what they will be faced with .Thirdly it aims to share all this knowledge and learn the understanding of this knowledge with others and to advertise the conclusions and inform the respective faith communities of the understandings reached by the many faiths conjoined. Lastly it aims that in order for Australians to live in harmony we must work together with other faiths to achieve common goals and to support each other in difficult times. It aims to do this by increasing awareness of issues that conflict different faiths and the individuals within those communities. Ecumenical developments is the movement within Christianity that aims at recovering thought and action of the true unity with the Church’s mission to the world and the Church’s responsibility to be unified. Thus, ecumenism is the promotion of cooperation between denominations of Christianity. Ecumenism is distinguished from interfaith dialogue .The interfaith movement vies for mutual, toleration, and co-operation among the world religions.
In Australian history, there have been ,any attempts to reconnect various religions, to ease the living situations, and as Australians we must work together to achieve common goals and like various Australians in history to support each other, by increasing knowledge of issues different faiths face, and the struggles of the individuals within those communities.
What makes Australia a peaceful multi-faith country is the Interfaith dialogue, as it covers topics that mainly impacts the daily lives of Australians and different aspects of belief which may lead to mis-understanding and tension/ For example the Muslim community discusses jihad and the effects on Muslims and everyone else. The Australian National Dialogue of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Was launched in 2003, it is an ongoing example of interfaith dialogue which sets out to be a model of how different faiths can live pleasantly together in Australia as a multicultural country. Australia is built on understanding, good will and dense of community between people of different faiths, and supporting each other in times of complexity.
Initiatives enable young people of the same faith but different branches of it in experiencing other views on the same religion, and an example of this is an Ecumenical movement known as : World student Christian Federation. This is a grouping of individual national Student Christian movements, including students from Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox denominations. The whole purpose is to evangelise the Christian message and to support the ecumenism of young Christians. Ultimately it helps the faith grow stronger, and it finds areas that all parts of the faith can get along, which has a positive impact on society, which is done by encouraging activities and of commonality within and between the faith communities.
Another example of interfaith dialogue is the Affinity Intercultural foundation, established by a young group of Australian Muslims in Sydney 2001 Its purpose is to meet the needs of the Muslim community to interrelate with the wider community and to help the broader community increase its awareness of the Muslim community, culture and religions. It has been on board with many Christian groups in projects and plans to expand the dialogue to include more groups of people from other religions and communities. An example of a youth event where students from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish backgrounds had met up on the 24th of October 2007, 180 students met at Shore High school to interact with each other their own experiences of being Australian with a dual identity. The result of this was it helped students experience and get informed on other faiths and made the religions able to relate to each other thus finding a sense of commonality, and it continues strengthening the community and making is more unified.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN AUSTRALIA (NCCA) was the first recognised union between the Catholic Church and other leading Christian faiths, it is also an example of another ecumenical movement as it brings together a number of Australia’s Christian churches in dialogue and support. Out of the despair of World War II formed the Australian Committee for the World Council of Churches, which developed into the Australian Council of Churches which, in 1994 then grew to become the National Council of Churches in Australia. The NCCA is consisted of 15 Christian churches across Australia, who have boarded on a pilgrimage together . Each brings a greatly diverse evidence of experience, and theology, but all share a mutual believe and faith in the Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. All share a common future as they apprehend that the future of Christians in Australia lies together, not divided. The aim of the NCCA is to strengthen and deepen the relationship of uniting churches to communicate more understandably the unity wanted by Christ and to work towards the achievement of their common mission of witness, declaration and service.
From 85% of the country’s Christians, it is said to be the country’s most influential and devoted lobby group.
Interfaith dialogue and Ecumenical developments have had various impacts on multi-faith Australia post 1945 as it brought the general community together and unified other faith communities by finding and working with commonalities, and establishing bonds thus creating a global religious community. They both have ultimately informed other faiths and educate other faiths in topics that would create tension between each other, and thus meant that the different faiths or branches of faith were more understanding about each others practices, and now may be able to help each other in time of need by not only depending on your own faith. The different missions, projects and groups formed have been very successful in sharing information and educating each other, and also in different institutions to then create a bettering Nation, which will contribute greater to the global community.
Part A: Discuss the continuing effect of dispossession on Aboriginal spiritualities in relation to the stolen generations.
Since the stolen generations had occurred, there has been a continuous disinheritance and dispossession of the amount of Spirituality in the Aboriginal culture. One of the worst chapters of Australian history was the forcible removal of Aboriginal young ones from their families, these Aboriginal people are known as the Stolen Generations. This event had an effect on all Australia that still continues till today, however the people who feel the effect are the Aboriginals, even the ones who did not experience it. The effects will carry on to future generations, and as a nation it will affect Australia greatly.
Dispossession To dispossess is to abandon ownership of, and in a spiritual sense is to be disconnected, and in this case it is a result from the stolen generations. This was also separation from family, and this separation removes the sense of belonging to each individual, this is thus related to the sense of belonging to the life you are living, and your surroundings. When the event of the stolen generation had occurred the result was loss, not only loss of family, but loss of identity, and loss of culture, therefore leading to the loss of the inextricable connection to their own land, which held the deep essence of their spirituality. “I feel our childhood has been taken away from us and it has left a big hole in our lives.”-Jennifer, personal story in the Bringing Them Home Report. This is someone who was apart of the stolen generation, and that hole that the pain had left cannot be filled, this hole includes the suffering that the went through emotionally and physically and the major cause was trauma, trauma that will remain for the generations to come.
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Spirituality is an important part of any Aboriginals life , and as a community, as it answers the questions that pervade human life, and the dispossession of oneself removes the concept of what it means to be human, and if these questions remain unanswered the community will be broken, and will not hold the same values as the Aboriginal community used to prior to the horrid events, thus stating their heritage will no longer be apart of their life. Kinship is a major part of Aboriginal spirituality, and the effect of an Aboriginal with no family is they have no way of knowing who they are and their purpose in life, and ultimately loss of self-identity and loss of spirit in life, and as Indigenous communities they lost their confidence in raising their own children thus this result will continue as a of the stolen generations. This can be seen from the life of a one Helen Moran who discusses the effects of the stolen generation on her, and how it can lead to anger, powerlessness and lack of purpose as well as an abiding distrust of Government, police and officials.
It is torturous to remove the sense of who you are and for the Aboriginals this removal had an influence of the coming generations, and the things that dispossession causes stolen generations can be seen from these examples now-a-days: reduced life expectancy, increased infant mortality, educational disadvantages, higher rates of- unemployment, drug and alcohol use. As seen from various accounts of the stolen generation, an example being the film: Rabbit Proof fence , one scene when the removal of the children was taking place was very intense to film, as they can see that what happened was real, and they can account how hard it was for the removal to take place, especially knowing it was their own people.
Dispossession is hard to over come, and the effects are long-lasting. We cannot cover the damage that has been done, and the continuous losses, and effects and detrimental results that has been brought upon the future from the past is tearing apart a good nation. However, due to current events, the effect is beginning to lessen as our reconciliation is taking place, although the memory of the past will still be embedded with the future Aboriginal spiritualities, and the effects are being seen today.
Part B: Examine the relationship between Aboriginal Spiritualities and religious traditions in the process of Reconciliation.
Relationships that are developed between Aboriginal spiritualities and non-Aboriginal people is important in the process of reconciliation. To reconcile is to bring into agreement or harmony and to restore and broken relationships, and in Australia it is used mainly to improve the relationships between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal Australians. Since 1788 and the European settlers, relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians have been weak. Aboriginals were undermined, and their culture was treated as if it had no value, along with the cultural and physical dispossession they were also brutally treated, and given unfair disadvantages from the start. Many Indigenous Australians were forced to live in conditions that were institutionalised, where many parts of their lives were controlled by non-Aboriginals, which cause an even deeper hole in the two faiths relationships.
It wasn’t until a few decades ago that Aboriginal people were treated as if the didn’t matter and didn’t exist, and the situation today is that past events still have that continuing effect . Negative attitudes passed on from one generation to another are not easily overcome, and often the result is distrust. And till today Aboriginal people continue to be disadvantaged, and as a result have had poor health issues, and it is ultimately affecting the rest of the nation.
Many reconciliations have been made throughout history, such as 19 December 1993 when the Parliament enacted the Native Title Act (1993), giving the Aboriginals the rights to recognize the land as their own sacred history, to the 2008 Sorry Speech made by Kevin Rudd a former prime minister of Australia who apologised for past injustices. These events were made significant in forming a stronger bond of trust between the two cultures. We, as non indigenous spiritual traditions must reconcile with Aboriginal spiritualities, as it is in our own faith, as Christians, to make peace with others so we can make peace with God, as by doing this we put our faith in Christ. The reconciliation process involves all Australians working together in their own way the process offers to help the past hurts and sufferings caused and to work past those to build a better future , allowing non-aboriginals to give respect to the Indigenous peoples of Australia, and to embrace them as equals.
With many traditional Aboriginal art works we can determine that they have wanted to reconcile to gain back their privileges, and to accept the past and move on. An example of this artwork would be the witchetty grubs, in the form of a cross. This represents the two races coming together under the same reason, in which is reconciliation, to join as one race and live together in harmony, as both faiths intended. The artwork views important parts of both faiths, (Aboriginal and Christian) con-joining as one.
The relationship that has been founded till today remains a constant battle, however over time there have been significant points that have sped up the reconciliation process, in which will take a while. The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal spiritualities is developing, and as examined from past to present there has been an important change, and ultimately we will still be moving forward in becoming more accepting of one another. It is only true reconciliation and forgiveness that can come from the hearts and the minds of both non-Aboriginals and Aboriginals, and the acknowledgement that what has happened in the past, and the determination of finding better and more improved ways of relating to one another, and it is up to both sides to promote harmony for the future betterment.
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