My Indigenous colleagues and I are often asked what (settler) churches can do to 'support and help' Indigenous people or 'walk alongside them' towards justice.
I usually respond with a list of options designed to get settlers thinking about the colonial assumptions in their questions. I bring it all back to land and country, and the fact that churches now possess what does not belong to them: our land. This fact is, in our view, the baseline or ground floor for any consideration of various modes of action by the churches. Here are some of the options then, as I see them.
1. Do nothing and keep the status quo. I call this the 'Anglican' option.
2. Talk loudly about justice for Indigenous people, hang Aboriginal art on the walls, rename your buildings with Indigenous names and do walking tours on country. I call this the 'Blak-cladding' option.
3. Require each church Property Trust to allocate 10% of its annual earnings from either rent or appreciation of values to church programs designed, led and implemented by Indigneous people. I call this the 'Benevolent Charity' option.
4. Require each church Property Trust to allocate 50% of all rents, value appreciations and sales proceeds to Indigenous designed, led and implemented church programs and/or local Aboriginal Controlled Organisations on an annual basis. I call this the 'Love Your Neighbour as Yourself' option.
5. Require each church Property Trust to transfer all lands, properties and other assets currently held in trust over to Aboriginal Controlled Organisations, including 20% to church programs designed, led and implemented by Indigenous people. Within five years. I call this the 'Returning Some of What You Stole' option.
6. Require each church Property Trust to transfer all lands, properties and other assets currently held in trust over to Aboriginal Controlled Organisations within 5 years, and commit each congregation to handing over 20% of its ongoing annual budget to church programs designed, led and implemented by Indigenous people. I call this the 'Not Quite Zachaeus, But We're Getting There' option.
It remains the case that what most Indigenous people want, most of all, is our land back. If we are able to care for country, then country will care for us. But not if we cannot get access. And access is currently impossible for the vast majority of us.