Archived News Item

NSW Mercy gathering with Indigenous women

A number of NSW Sisters of Mercy, associates and Aboriginal women met at Mulgoa Retreat Centre, Sydney on June 13 and 14. Sister Shirley Garland reports: "As always it was great to be together and to share our experiences as we endeavour to build up partnerships and relationships with our Aboriginal friends."

Our particular task at this meeting was to explore further the statement of group identity which we developed at our last meeting, so that it now reads as follows:

We are a group of Mercy women and others in NSW-ACT:

  1. deeply listening (Dadirri)
  2. sharing and learning from Aboriginal sisters-brothers, ourselves and others
  3. responding to the call for action in our local, national and global scenes
  4. evolving communication within the group and beyond
  5. engaging in service and companioning with Aboriginal People

We seek commitment from our leaders as we work within church and beyond – across boundaries, even our own.

We will, within the next few months, work together to develop our immediate focus…

We went on to identify objectives derived from this statement and to discern some actions which we could undertake so as to realise these objectives. Some of our objectives so far developed include:

  1. To participate at grassroots level around significant issues.
  2. To plan activities around Aboriginal culture – open to the broader community.
  3. To be informed on current issues and act on them.
  4. To educate ourselves and the wider community about Aboriginal cultures and spiritualities.
  5. To work with Aboriginal People in local areas to provide a framework within which they can story about culture and leadership.
  6. To set up a referral programme to connect Aboriginal People to services, e.g. legal, dental, medical. This programme would seek out professional service providers who do respond and base that response on a justice model.

We acknowledged that this part of our task, to draw up objectives and actions, is as yet incomplete. However, we were encouraged by our success so far in this activity.

During our gathering we also had the opportunity to listen to Ms Winsome Matthews, a local Indigenous Leader in the Mount Druitt area. (Refer to article in The Sydney Morning Herald, March 11, 2008 – DOWNLOAD HERE) who reflected with us on “where to” after the apology. We found her words both heartening and challenging and thank her for them.

We would also like to thank Helen Kearins RSM for her generous work in facilitating our efforts.

From: Sister Shirley Garland RSM (Goulburn)