We were, however, heartened and humbled by the initial gracious response of many First Nations people who must have experienced the rejection of their invitation offered through the Uluru Statement as a slap in the face. In all their sadness and hurt, they were able to express gratitude to the many who supported them.
It is an indisputable fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the custodians of this land we call Australia for tens of thousands of years before Europeans arrived as colonisers in 1788. It is also indisputable that there is an unacceptable gap of disadvantage and poorer outcomes for many of our First Nations people.
While there were multiple reasons why people voted No, many No voters expressed an awareness of the need for our nation to find a way forward in ‘closing the gap’.
There needs to be a time for grieving and healing for all of us who had hoped for a positive response to the proposal put by the referendum, before the First Nations people decide how to continue the journey forward.
Our hope is that the goodwill, positive energy and growing awareness and understanding of our Australian history will nurture a seed, planted by the Uluru Statement, that will grow in the hearts of all Australians, and that our hearts will burn within us all for justice, peace and a fair go for all, especially for the First Nations people.
Sr Mary-Anne Duigan rsm
and Sr Claudette Cusack rsm
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