A Conversation about Treaty: Sovereignty as a Spiritual Notion

Monday, September 2, 2019

Indigenous broadcaster and community leader Susan Moylan-Coombs is known in Australia for the effective leadership she has taken in bringing people to an understanding of what is needed for reconciliation between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians. Moylan-Coombs was hosted by IofC Australia at the Armagh centre in Melbourne on 4 August, 2019 and spoke about what Treaty could mean for Australia.

Sovereignty, for Moylan-Coombs, is a spiritual notion, the basis of ownership of the soil.  “It’s about connection, the way we belong, our custodianship of Country,” she explained.  “We belong to the land and our job was to take care of it…. It’s not about out us owning the land. We fell into the trap of being called “traditional owners”. The notion of ownership came from a Western viewpoint, which recognized private ownership.”

IofC elder Barbara Lawler reflected afterwards that, “More conversations are needed to follow up…Our role at IofC Australia is to create more such spaces for open-hearted, open-minded conversations to take place – for people to be better informed and to process their responses to these most fundamental, unresolved set of issues for Australia.”                    

IofC Australia member and Vice President, IofC International (2015 – 2018), Mohan Bhagwandas was also at the event. Looking to the future, he commented that, “IofCA has a real opportunity to bring its decades of collective skills and competency in the area of ‘building trust across the divides’ to help create the space for conversations, in order to make Treaty and Voice a reality.”

Listen to Moylan-Coombs’ whole speech here: 

  • IofC Australia has a history of accompanying and supporting Indigenous community leaders as they strive for change in Australian society. For more information about our work in this area, contact David Vincent