Indigenous Reconciliation and Faith: Walk Alongside to Build Religious Inclusivity and Acceptance

Indigenous CrucifixAt the Annual General Meeting of Religions for Peace Australia (6 June 2021), Indigenous Woman Dr Anne Patel-Gray gave one talk about her work Walk Alongside to Build Religious Inclusivity and Acceptance and – as a Christian theologian and Doctor of Theology – told that Australia is not longer exclusively a Christian country but is now a multicultural and multifaith nation. The road forward for religions in Australia is an Interfaith road. In this article, we bring you the video of Dr Anne Pattel-Gray’s talk, and an overview of her work,What is Walk Alongside?

Dr Anne Pattel Gray
About Dr Anne Pattel Gray:
‘Dr Anne Pattel Gray – a globally recognised expert on Black theology, and the first Indigenous Australian to be awarded a doctorate in theology in the 1990s. Before she made history with her PhD in theology, she had emerged as a Christian leader with a national profile and platform. As the founding executive secretary of the Aboriginal and Islander commission of the National Council of Churches, Anne helped bring Indigenous perspectives to the national and international church. Anne speaks about the question of reconciliation as a pilgrimage towards justice, the role of churches in relation to Indigenous Christian leaders, belonging, and identity.’

The Title of her talk is Walk Alongside to Build Religious Inclusivity and Acceptance

Synopsis: As a multicultural society, how do we build an Australia that embraces our religious difference as a value and strength which recognises Australia’s First Nations Spirituality, values and beliefs to build unity and peace.



What is Walk Alongside?

World Vision has partnered with Reconciliation Australia to develop a new program to guide churches in building strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Throughout Australia’s history, churches have been strong supporters of reconciliation. From the earliest days of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (now Reconciliation Australia) Christian communities have recognised the potential of the reconciliation movement to seek restorative justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, where past wrongs are acknowledged and a healing pathway is forged through the building of strong and respectful relationships.

World Vision and Reconciliation Australia acknowledge the good work being done and the positive relationships that Christian churches have been building with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. We also recognise that our shared history has not always been a positive one and there have been missed opportunities for the church to learn from, and respectfully walk alongside, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This program is designed for Australian churches who are unsure about where to start this journey or want to do more and need help taking the next step.

As the heart and soul of our communities, churches provide congregations with a sense of purpose and help make sense of the activities they perform every day in their workplaces, universities, schools and communities.

World Vision and Reconciliation Australia believe that churches can empower Christian communities to drive forward the process of reconciliation both inside and outside of their churches. By acknowledging and creating greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories; building stronger and more respectful relationships between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and helping to close the gaps in life circumstances and expectancy, churches can contribute to positive and lasting social change within Australia.

The Walk Alongside Program also provides a framework and a suggested activity plan to help guide Christian churches build stronger and healthier relationships with Indigenous Australians. It seeks to point to a whole range of faith based and non-faith based resources, potential partners and networks that can support a church on this reconciliation journey. It embeds Reconciliation Australia’s model for reconciliation — Relationships, Respect and Opportunities, within a faith context, focusing on elements of church life both within the church and in the broader community.

One of the key factors underlying Indigenous disadvantage is the ongoing existence of negative discrimination of Indigenous Australians. This discrimination takes many forms and is manifest in many different ways and so often precludes Indigenous people from taking control of their lives. Thus reconciliation to tackle discrimination is also seen as critical to long-term change and is why World Vision is committed to the Walk Alongside Program and developing this toolkit.

For more information about World Vision’s work in Australia go to World Vision Australia’s website

For more information about Reconciliation Australia’s Framework for Reconciliation go to their website

Download Walk Alongside — Church Toolkit for Reconciliation


An artist’s impression of Hat Hill with a 20 metre tall lit cross as envisioned by photographer Ken Duncan for the Australian outback

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