Aborigines hurt by policy, says Bishop
Date: August 25 2006
Aborigines are too often blamed for problems in their communities that are the fault of public policy, says Melbourne's Anglican archbishop-elect, Northern Territory Bishop Philip Freier.
He said scrapping the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was a policy that profoundly affected indigenous people, for which the Government had not been held to account. Dr Freier, who was elected on Tuesday night, flew into Melbourne yesterday to give a press conference. Converted to Christianity as a young teacher in an Aboriginal community in Cape York, he speaks a number of indigenous languages and has worked closely with Aborigines.
"In Australia it's not always a happy history, and once again we are looking for quick solutions," he said.
Dr Freier said indigenous people had taught him about hope and endurance in tough situations, and about the importance of listening, which would stand him in good stead as he grappled with the diversity of the church in Melbourne.
He also criticised "stop-gap, short-term solutions" in dealing with asylum seekers.
Anglicans expressed optimism about their new archbishop, with leaders of the three factions promising to work for unity. "The task now is to unite around our new archbishop and work for the best of the diocese as a whole," said St Peter's Eastern Hill vicar John Davis, a leader of the Catholic wing.
Evangelical leader Peter Adam said Bishop Freier would come in with a very positive welcome. Canon Colleen O'Reilly, a leader of the liberal Melbourne Anglicans Together, said Bishop Freier was equipped for his task.