It’s hard to summarise my AboutFACE experience when my mind is overflowing with thoughts, feelings and memories from an amazing three weeks.
What I can confidently share is what an eye-opening and very enjoyable experience AboutFACE was.
Attending the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) conference in Perth was a sincerely moving and also highly fun opportunity. It was a privilege to be able to meet Aboriginal congress members from across Australia, and hear first-hand their stores of life, pain, joy, faith, their wisdoms from the past and their hopes for the future.
It was a blessing to be accepted into the UAICC community and although there were times of expressed true hurts and frustrations, the overall atmosphere of the conference, I felt was of joy. Joy in the reuniting of Christ’s family, of praising God together and shared experiences of triumph, transformation and hope.
Transformation, in fact, was the key theme for the conference, focusing on “Determining Tomorrow’s Communities”. It was very evident that in many communities and in individual’s lives that God was transforming, restoring and blessing His people, but also that there are still hurts to heals, and there is much respect and trust to be restored between the first and second nations of this Country.
It was great following the closing of the conference, to be able to stay in an Aboriginal community for a few days. Myself and two other AboutFACE participants had our placement in Nepabunna, in the Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, about eight hours North of Adelaide. This remote but picturesque location is home to around forty-five Adnyamathanha people (“rock people”).
Our hosts knew their country very well, and were able to take us to many cultural and historical sites where there are no roads or signs. The people we met in Nepabunna were very warm and very open to sharing with us about their history and their present lives.
Nepabunna is a beautiful and safe community and I would have loved to have stayed there longer, or better still, revisit in the warmer months, when it isn’t as cold.
I purposefully went into AboutFACE with no expectations, but to listen, learn and experience. It was an amazing time, which I will draw on and appreciate for many years to come, and has furthered my passion for justice and equality, specifically in Australia.