This morning, a group of religious leaders from the Uniting Church WA, Catholic ministers, the Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission and Churches of Christ in WA joined Indigenous leaders to oppose the construction of the controversial Roe 8 highway through the Beeliar Wetlands.
Rev Ivan Clark, Uniting Church WA minister, and Rev Sealin Garlett, minister with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress were interviewed by media, including with Channel 7 and a live cross to the national Today Show on Channel 9.
Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church Western Australia, was also present.
Steve said, “As the Uniting Church Western Australia we are committed to walking alongside our Aboriginal sisters and brothers, listening to them and supporting them as they seek truth, justice and healing for their people. We have not always done this well as a church, but with the grace and leadership of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress we are growing in our understanding and respect of the culture and wisdom of the First People of this land.
“Today, therefore, we are standing with Nyungar elder and recently retired Uniting Church minister Rev Sealin Garlett and the Nyungar people to request a halt to the destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands for the Roe 8 Highway.
Rev Sealin Garlett explained the importance of the area to Nyungar people saying, “There is an ancient songline that runs from over at Coogee beach, right through these wetlands all the way to Uluru. This is a special place, a heart place. Our people have gathered here from long ago to meet and this is where our women would have their babies.
“Clearing this land, putting concrete in this ground, it wounds our spirit. It feels like we are being ignored as a people, that our culture is not valued.”
Steve said that he could not stand by and hear his brother’s grief in silence. “We hear from our First People that this is sacred ground and has been long before any European arrived. We would not want our heritage churches bulldozed and so, neither do we want this land bulldozed.
“We hear the many challenges facing Indigenous people across Western Australia – disturbing rates of suicide, incarceration and children being taken into care and have called for a fresh approach through the Social Reinvestment WA campaign.
“We also hear how Aboriginal people are finding healing and wholeness when they are able to connect to their culture, to their language and to their land and so we call for all West Australians to stand in support of Aboriginal-led family and cultural support initiatives.
“We recognise that a new conversation with Aboriginal people is needed in Western Australia – one that begins with listening. For the Whadjuk Nyungar people, we hear that this conversation can begin by acknowledging that the Beeliar Wetlands are sacred ground. We therefore stand together on this sacred land to call for a halt to the Roe 8 project.
To read more about the Uniting Church WA’s involvement with the campaign to save Beeliar wetlands visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/12/15/uniting-church-wa-urges-premier-to-stop-work-on-roe-8.
To read more about the significance of the Beeliar Wetlands to Rev Sealin Garlett visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/02/04/standing-together-to-save-beeliar-wetlands.
To read about the importance of wetlands in WA visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2016/12/07/water-for-life.
For more information on how you can get involved in this campaign visit http://www.rethinkthelink.com.au.