Caritas helps drive constitutional recognition for first Australians

Gary Bonney visits Caritas programs in Peru

Gary Bonney visits Caritas programs in Peru

Media Release
20 June, 2013

Two students from Western Australia’s Notre Dame University, supported by Caritas Australia, will clock up more than 1,600 kilometres when they embark on a road trip across the South West and Mid West, Western Australia, to bring awareness to constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, is committed to working with Indigenous Peoples across the world. For over 40 years Caritas Australia has been working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia through its First Australians programs. Caritas’s Walk As One campaign advocates joining in solidarity with Indigenous communities to achieve a more just world.

University of Notre Dame, Education student, Gary Bonney, who’s based in the Fremantle campus, and fellow Arts and Science student, Acacia Armstrong, will engage and inspire senior secondary students in Catholic schools on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from Mandurah and Bunbury to Busselton, Manjimup, Albany and Geraldton.

Supported by Caritas Australia, the tour of schools will take place from 24 to 3rd July has been organised in partnership with Recognise and the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia.

“I think it’s a good thing to focus on the issue of constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians,” Gary said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not mentioned in the Constitution and their rights are not acknowledged.

“The constitution is like Australia’s roadmap as a nation and it’s about time that it recognised the enormous contribution of our First Australians to our country.”

Gary took part in a “life-changing” trip to Peru in December 2012, as part of the University’s Experience the World program, in collaboration with Caritas Australia and the School of Arts and Sciences on the Fremantle campus.

He said the trip allowed him to visit programs run by Caritas’ partners in Peru, particularly communities inhabited by first peoples, and to see the connections between Indigenous groups living in different countries.
“I admire how Caritas and its partners works in a holistic way at a grassroots level to help the most marginalised, including Indigenous people, to be architects of their own development,” Gary said.

“Our story in Australia is pretty unique. In comparison to many other countries we are in a strong position to empower and protect the human rights of Indigenous Australians, given we are politically stable with a strong economy and with no fighting or civil unrest.”

It’s estimated there are more than 370 million Indigenous peoples living in some 90 countries around the world today.

Gary said their contribution to the global community should not be undervalued; they are custodians of some of the world’s most biologically diverse territories; are responsible for a great deal of the world’s cultural and linguistic diversity; and their traditional knowledge is an invaluable resource in many sectors, such as medicine and agriculture.

Find out more about Caritas Australia’s “Walk as One”campaign on the website

Gary is available for interviews

For more information contact: Media Advisor, Nicole Clements on 0408 869 833