Media and Communications Office
Catholic secondary schools gathered at the Richmond FC last Friday for the annual Voice Treaty Truth event facilitated by Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) and co-hosted by the Office for Justce and Peace. The day is created to provide young adolescents the chance to connect with their culture and with each through a variety of keynote talks and activities.
The morning began with an Acknowledgement of Country and some icebreaker activities and continued on with the first guest speaker, Fr Joe Caddy who offered encouraging and inspiring words to the young generation of indigenous people.
‘We need to hear the stories and dreams that makes this place home. It’s the original Australians, their ancestors and you who holds the key to that interpretation to make meaning in this country,’ Fr Joe said in his address to the young teenagers in the audience.
‘The great stories and dreaming of your ancestors meets the stories and reflections of Jesus. The love and mercy of God reconciles and brings all of that together. Your program today fills me with hope. I can see that you will recognize and celebrate your pride in your rich and various cultures which support this great land for the good of all. And so I thank you all for being here and being a part of this,’ he said.
‘And so this is a brand new chapter on this land, which in our national anthem says is “for we are young and free” but is also ancient and wise and which is a place that aspires to be a land that is fair and just for all that want to make their home here. And so with all of this with your help and blessing we hope to emerge into a nation that is kinder, fairer and knowledgeable.’
He was then followed with a Pallet Preparation for Treaty Panel and Q&A session with speakers includeing Victorian Aboriginal community leaders Jill Gallagher AO, Joseph Saunders, and Indigenous broadcaster Gerry "Gman" Lyons. Students in the audience used their phones to contribute ‘Deadly Questions’, many were around the topic of ‘Treaty’.
Jill Gallagher spoke to the young crowd regarding the history of Treaty in Australia and how much more work needs to be put in to develop this relationship between the original people of this nation and those who now cohabit in it.
‘Why do we need a treaty? We are the first peoples of this continent,’ she said.
‘We never said to come in and take our land. Come in and murder our communities and be brutal about it. We never asked for it. So there needs to be treaties in this country of Australia, to try and right some of those wrongs of the past. There were wrongs committed on our communities in the name of colonization. And no one has ever been accountable for that. And we need to be able to take our rightful place into First Peoples of this continent here in our own country. Treaties can bring that recognition of our sovereignty,’ Jill said.
‘The whole world needs to hear about the abomination in this country so we can all move on as one nation.’
The rest of the day was filled with various other keynotes, and opportunities for young men and women to connect with their respective traditions of storytelling, didgeridoo, dance and weaving.