Twenty one years is a long time by any measure. Twenty one years of faith filled laughter, compassion, acceptance and hope in an Aboriginal community is an extraordinary gift.
As the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy celebrate their 150th anniversary of their foundation, Sister Nora’s story speaks to the heart of what this group of practical women of faith and love have achieved. Nora the Irish story teller, the home maker and ‘make at home creator’ has humbly entered in the lives of some of our society’s most vulnerable. In this sacred space her presence, her compassion; her mercy has held them in her arms and in her heart.
This story follows Nora from County Cork to Brisbane, Gympie – Woorabinda and now to outback Roma – all places where she has attempted to be one of Catherine McAuley’s girls with the poor.
Jill of all Trades: Nora's Response Tips
As one responds to issues within our world it is important to know there are many ways to respond. Not everyone can nor should respond in radical ways. Most responses should either grow awareness of the situation, stand in solidarity with people, advocate for them or the issue or take some form of action. One of the key responses should always be to form some sort of personal relationship with the person or issue; taking it beyond labels to the people who are daily affected by it.Short term: Purchase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander picture story books for your children, young relatives or friend’s children. It is a great way of handing down some of our nation’s most important stories.
Medium term: Become involved in an immersion program of Indigenous communities. This is a positive way to get to know people in their communities and build great friendships. Visit education and action organisation The Edmund Rice Centre.
Longer term: Explore building a Reconciliation Garden in your workplace, Church or in a public space in your local area.
Medium term: Find out if your local school incorporates Indigenous Studies into its curriculum. If not, seek to have it considered.
Longer term: Support the "Close the Gap" campaign to reduce the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Oxfam Website has helpful information.
Medium term: Visit an Indigenous cultural centre and engage with the staff and guides. Take the opportunity to get to know contemporary as well as traditional stories.
Longer term: Get involved in NAIDOC week during the first week in July. This week aims to celebrate the richness of Indigenous culture and heritage.Short term: Become a sponsor of a group like ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation). These groups act at a national and international level to bring about justice for Indigenous people.
Medium term: Organise a "Sorry Day" observance in your workplace. Part of the Prime Minister's speech could be played and stories of the Stolen Generation shared. For further information access the National Sorry Day Committee website.
Longer term: Consider volunteering in a remote community through various volunteer organisations such as Palms Australia. Communities offer placements for a variety of different occupations and can range from 3 months to two years.