Josephite call to go beneath surface in talk of Aboriginal violence

The "tone" of recent talks about violence in Aboriginal communities is worrying the Josphites, who yesterday called for more consideration of the deeper problems of dispossession and poverty.

In a statement released yesterday, Sr Katrina Brill, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, says that Aboriginal communities known to the Josephites are "suffering profound shame" over the tone of recent talks about violence in their communities.

She called for more integrity and compassion when discussing the difficulties faced by remote communities. "Pope Benedict XVI has rightly spoken of the need to consider 'underlying causes of their plight'," she said.

"One needs to consider the dispossession, violence, humiliation and oppression and particularly loss of culture which Indigenous people have survived and endured."

"One needs also to consider that many live in poverty and poor health, isolated from resources taken for granted by other Australians - health, education, housing, employment opportunities and police services," she added.

Sr Brill admits that although the Josephites have made efforts to be involved with Indigenous people, they have not done enough.

"We are pledged to continue and increase our involvement to work with local communities towards solutions that are culturally sensitive, specifically suited to the local context and an effective response to present challenges," she said.

Meanwhile, the Josephites have been awarded a gift industry award for their work alongside the poor in Peru and through the sale of Peruvian products in Australia.

The Gift Awards Gala Dinner, presented by Reed Gift Fairs, took place last week at Sydney's Doltone House, where the winners received their trophies before an audience of 200 retailers, manufacturers and designers. The winners represent the best products, services and people in Australia's $20 billion gift industry.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph Peruvian Project outdid other finalists to win the award for the "Most Environmentally or Socially Responsible Product".

The twenty-six judges, who included Julia Zaetta, Editor of Better Homes and Gardens, and Laura Rhodes from the Body Shop, were shown a selection of the SOSJ Peruvian Project's stunning baby alpaca wraps and shawls that are sold in Australia.

They agreed that the wraps were not only winning product, given their exquisitely fine, soft quality, but also that the story behind the wraps is a rare and commendable one.

"Winning this Award is a significant milestone for the project," a Josephite statement said. "It is wonderful to see this innovative effort, one that brings together disadvantaged developing communities with the discerning Australian market, recognised and rewarded by the gift industry."

Josephite response to recent media discussion about the situation in Aboriginal communities (Sisters of St Joseph 1/6/06)
Sisters of St Joseph Peruvian Project Wins the Gift Award 2006 (Sisters of St Joseph 1/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sisters of St Joseph | Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands
The Gift Awards | Winners Announced for The Gift Awards 2006 (PDF)

2 Jun 2006