Global Indigenous gathering focuses on future generations

A global Indigenous gathering to explore the issues and concerns facing Indigenous people in Australia and to garner international perspectives will be held in Sydney this month.

More than 2,000 Indigenous people from around the world are expected to attend the gathering co-hosted by the University of Sydney and The Healing Foundation.

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide is considered an epicentre of Indigenous culture, community and activism. The theme for the Eighth Gathering is ‘For our grandchildren’s grandchildren’.

High profile speakers include prominent Australian politician Linda Burney and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar.

Ms Oscar AO, a proud Bunuba woman, said the gathering offered an exciting opportunity to join with Indigenous people from around the world to celebrate their collective resilience and strength and share stories of success.

“We come from the oldest continuous civilisation on earth and our very survival in this country is testament to our knowledge systems, identity and strength as a people.

“When we take the time to listen to the truth of Indigenous peoples, we can move forward and truly realise our visions for building a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

Workshops, plenary sessions and activities will address topics relevant to Indigenous people including: healing and health; land and language; learning; education and employment; lore, law and justice; and our future.

A Gathering Space with free activities and performances will also be open to the public, including dedicated sessions for children, young people and Elders.

Director of Healing Our Spirit Worldwide’s governing body the International Indigenous Council Maggie Hodgson said focusing on the future was essential to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people globally.

“Hundreds of years of colonialism has disrupted knowledge gathering, sharing and remembering.

“We look to the Eighth Gathering to renew the power of this knowledge and wisdom to sustain our identity, culture, families and communities.”

Healing our Spirit Worldwide began in Canada in the 1980s to address substance abuse and dependence among the world’s Indigenous people. Gatherings have been held about every four years since 1992 around the world, focusing on a diverse range of topics relevant to Indigenous lives. It is the second time Sydney has hosted the gathering; the Second Gathering was held in Sydney in 1994.

The Hon Linda Burney MP, of the Wiradjuri Nation from NSW and the first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives, said the gathering would provide timely international perspectives as Australia considers enshrining a First Nations voice in the constitution.

CEO of The Healing Foundation, Richard Weston, a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, said acknowledging and harnessing ancient wisdom passed down through generations was key.

“The Healing Foundation’s work has shown that the best results can be achieved when communities are empowered to identify and address the challenges they face.”

The Eighth Gathering will be held from 26-29 November 2018, at Sydney’s International Convention Centre.

The program is available here

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