A survey has found practising Christians want their churches to be more active in helping to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Source: NCLS.
The 2016 National Church Life Survey (2016 NCLS) invited church attenders and leaders to reflect on “the state of Indigenous and non-indigenous relations in within churches in Australia”, as well as on current public policy issues concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Results from the NCLS indicate sympathy among the churchgoing population towards the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as widespread support for self-determination and government measures to improve life outcomes,” said NCLS Research's Miriam Pepper.
Three-quarters of church attenders agreed that racism towards Aboriginal people is still a concern in Australia. There was strong support for government action to “close the gap”; some 78 per cent agreed that the government should do more to improve health, 66 per cent that governments should provide extra help for Aboriginal people to gain employment, and 60 per cent that governments should commit to reducing incarceration rates. Large majorities were in support of constitutional recognition and agreed that Aboriginal people should decide their own way of life.
There was also significant support for churches to be more proactive. Some 62 per cent of attenders agreed that churches should more actively promote reconciliation, and 48 per cent agreed that their local church should do more to build relationships with Aboriginal people.
In contrast, levels of action on these matters were low. Around four in ten church attenders reported taking some form of action to encourage indigenous reconciliation, awareness or relationship building in the previous 12 months; including 16 per cent who had made an active effort to stay informed on indigenous issues and policies, 13 per cent who had developed friendships with indigenous Australians and 4 per cent who had advocated on indigenous issues (e.g. signed a petition, wrote to a parliamentarian).
“While there is clearly an openness in the churches to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the gap between broad aspiration and specific action shows there are further roads to travel when it comes to indigenous justice and engagement,” Dr Pepper said.