Archived News Item

Social Justice Commissioner responds to sisters’ Indigenous statement

In November last year, the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart released a joint statement declaring their resolve to stand with Aboriginal people in their struggle for basic human rights. In response, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr Tom Calma, has sent a letter to the Institute expressing his gratitude for this statement and for the advocacy efforts of Mercy and Josephite Sisters.


In his letter, Mr Calma says, “thank you for the very important media statement that you released on 29 November 2006 with Sister Katrina Brill from the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart pledging support for Indigenous Australians on the 20th anniversary of the Pope’s Alice Spring‘s address.


“The address delivered by Pope John Paul II twenty years ago acknowledges not only the connection between Indigenous Australians and their land, but also the effects of dispossession. As you rightly pointed out in the press release, this message still resonates strongly with the position of Indigenous Australians in this country today”, said Mr Calma.


Read the full text of Mr Calma’s letter.


Read the Mercy-Josephite statement.


Background to the Joint Public Statement

Released on November 29, 2006, this statement was the result of a co-ordinated plan by numerous people after Sister Laraine Crowe RSJ and Mercy Sisters met to discuss their concerns about Indigenous issues while they were at the 2006 “Dreaming of the Heart” gathering in Alice Springs (October 2006).


Laraine Crowe RSJ, Karon Donnellon RSM and Celestine Pooley RSM continued this discussion, especially in relation to the Northern Territory Land Rights Legislation. The sisters involved in the Institute Justice Network contacted the community at Elcho Island who had requested assistance, and also researched the issue and sought responses from sisters working with Indigenous Australians.


The Sisters of St Joseph completed similar work and primarily wrote the draft statement. Together, we refined the document and after a number of adjustments, the Leadership Teams of the Josephite Sisters and the Mercy Sisters approved the statement.


The Josephite Sisters sought advice from media personnel, from senior Indigenous advisers and finally released the statement via their media contacts.


It was great to collaborate with the Josephite Sisters and having established a good working relationship in the area of Indigenous issues, we look forward to working together in the future. We are grateful to all who were involved for their generous commitment of expertise, time and passion.


Reflecting on the Statement

What is your response to our statement?


Have you taken any action in response to the statement or the issue?


Please forward your comments via email to Carmel Heagerty RSM (Institute Justice Co-ordinator)


From: Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns (Sisters Rose Glennen and Liz Rothe)


Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator