Faith will keep the fire of hope burning

Faith will keep the fire of hope burning

Media Release
First Nations

Faith, optimism and determination are key to achieving justice for Australia’s First Nations Peoples, and in keeping with the NAIDOC Week theme, these qualities can ensure the fires burn for a brighter future. 

Speaking in advance of NAIDOC Week, which runs from 7-14 July 2024, National President Mark Gaetani promised St Vincent de Paul Society continues a strong commitment to its First Nations policies and remains optimistic these goals will in time be implemented by governments. 

‘Within this policy framework we continue to call for the funding of, and commitment to, Closing the Gap targets by all governments, the age of criminal responsibility being raised to 14 years, and for community-led policies on justice reinvestment and keeping children safe, with ongoing funding,’ Mr Gaetani said. 

‘We are keeping the fire burning in our hearts to achieve these fundamental human rights and will continue to advocate strongly with government to ensure they remain on the agenda.’ 

Mr Gaetani noted the Society’s long history of working with and assisting First Nations communities, families and individuals, saying a disproportionate number of people assisted by member conferences are from First Nations backgrounds. 

‘Indeed, for certain services in the Northern Territory, over 90 per cent of people we assist identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, while in many places, especially regionally, the figure exceeds 50 per cent. This reflects the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our country and highlights why more must be done.’ 

On Sunday 7 July, at the start of NAIDOC Week, Catholics around Australia will honour and celebrate the rich cultural heritage and contributions of First Nations Peoples to the Australian Catholic Church. 

‘Under the banner of Keep the Fire Burning - Strong in Faith, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council will mark National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday,’ Mr Gaetani said.  

‘We join with them in the spirit of the Gospel Reading for the day, from Mark 6:1-6, which tells the story of Jesus returning to his hometown, only to be met with scepticism and disbelief.  

‘As NATSICC says, “This passage resonates deeply with our own experiences as First Australians, as we can often find that our voices go unheard and our contributions not embraced”. 

‘These words should resonate with all Australians,’ Mr Gaetani said. 

‘We must listen to the voices of First Nations Peoples and work hard to achieve a fairer Australia for everyone. NAIDOC Week is an ideal time to contemplate these issues and resolve how best to take meaningful action in our personal and working lives.’   

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.

0475 068 209 or media@svdp.org.au

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