Programmes

The Trustbuilding Program – Australia

Project Aim 

To build trust between non-Indigenous Australians and First Nations Peoples through a process of ‘truth-telling and truth-hearing’ as a way of bringing a cultural and structural shift towards ‘fair and truthful relationships.   

Background 

Some level of denial about Australia’s true history amongst non-Indigenous Australians has existed ever since Captain James Cook claimed the continent for Britain in 1770 on the basis of it being ‘Terra Nullius’ (an empty land), despite First Nations Peoples inhabiting the land for 60,000 years. As a result, generations of First Nations people suffered dispossession and brutal injustices, and denial of their basic human rights.    

In June 2015, at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to consider Constitutional changes to acknowledge this tragic history, 40 First Nations leaders presented a demand that their people be given a chance to have their say before proposed compromise amendments were put to a vote. Over a year, 13 regional consultations were held under First Nations leadership, culminating in the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, issued in 2017. It calls for a Constitutionally enshrined ‘First Nations Voice’ to Parliament, establishing a ‘Makaratta Commission’ to supervise a process of agreement-making and ‘truth-telling about our history’. Regrettably, the recommendations were summarily dismissed by the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The matter is still before Parliament. However, the Uluru Statement was addressed to the people of Australia, not just to the government.  First Nations leaders were inviting all Australians to join ‘in a movement towards fair and truthful relationships. The IofC Australia trustbuilding team responded to this call by shaping a three-year program of ‘truth-telling and truth-hearing’ about the history of colonisation experienced by First Nations people and about the current realities of social and economic disadvantage that they face.    

Activities 

Under the name ‘Our Uluru Response’, the IofCA trustbuilding team will work at two levels: primarily to engage non-Indigenous Australians in building relationships with First Nations people and communities, through truth-telling dialogues and events across the country. Secondly, using the Trustbuilding methodology in a series of in-depth workshops in selected localities, co-designed with First Nations people, to reveal their true history and present challenges.    

Australia Project Team 

The Project team will be guided by a ‘Partnership Steering Committee’ made up mainly of First Nations people, and will be led by a Project Manager, working within an operational ‘Our Uluru Response Coordinating Team’, already functioning.  Members of this team:   

Margaret Hepworth

Margaret Hepworth

Executive Officer of IofC Australia, a teacher and educator, has held leadership roles in educational institutions in Melbourne. An author and international facilitator, Margaret founded The Gandhi Experiment, an independent initiative with a vision of world peace through education. Her work has taken her across Australia, India, and into Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Fiji. In 2016 she received the Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women’s Leadership. She has designed innovative curriculum in Indigenous Studies in Melbourne schools and believes in experiential learning. She sees the trustbuilding project as ‘an opportunity for all Australians to step up to healing, reconciliation and movement forward.’

Sarah Naarden

Sarah Naarden

Architect, educator and mother passionate about co-evolving sustainability with First Nations leadership. As a former associate director at Bates Smart architects, she led a design-thinking team on the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne. In 2015 Sarah founded Design Think Lab engaging in a co-design process with Wurrundjeri Traditional Owners to create award winning projects like the Monash Health Aboriginal Healing Garden. Whilst pausing a PhD in co-design, Sarah is curating ‘Regenerating the Kooyongkoot’, a micro-festival with a First Nations welcome to country, ecology walk and workshops to celebrate the proposed restoration of a 10 km biodiversity masterplan proposal for the Glen Iris Wetlands in Melbourne. She is also currently studying a Masters of Therapeutic Arts, intending to apply this to creative ecology, community engagement and Indigenous heritage marking on walking trails. 

Amiel Nubaha

Amiel Nubaha

A Rwandan refugee and former President of the Rwandan Association of Queensland, has a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He now works in the juvenile justice system in a First Nations community in Queensland. A Caux Scholar alumni, he draws on IofC’s focus ‘on lifestyle and life choices, the values it promotes, and the practice of quiet time reflection, to invest in young people… to encourage them to be change-makers and collectively work towards that vision of a future where there is a trust, peace and forgiveness.’

David Clisby

David Clisby

Actor, who in the 1970s travelled with a theatre company doing ‘cultural sharing’ in numerous isolated Aboriginal communities in Central Australia and the 'Top End' (Northern Australia). No longer an actor, and never an activist, David describes himself as 'an artist, or perhaps a heartist. My heart is certainly drawn to the extraordinary generosity expressed in the invitation from the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together towards a better future. It is an invitation which I accept whole-heartedly.

Caroline Edwards

Caroline Edwards

Educator and counsellor, who designed curriculum and taught Aboriginal studies in Western Australia. Caroline has had a long involvement with Creators of Peace, and was co-founder of the Mandorla Centre for Inner Peace and the Christian Meditation Network in Western Australia.

Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Has worked on IofC trust-building projects in Cambodia, South Sudan and the USA. His calling comes partly from the life-impacting discovery of his ancestors’ role in the dispossession and killing of Australia’s First Nations people in the 1850s. He was co-chair of Sorry Day in his state and one of the team who created a memorial to the ‘Stolen Generation’ of children removed from their families. He believes Australia’s true nationhood will only begin to emerge ‘when we have a national agreement built on truth-telling of our history and current injustices’.

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