A few years ago, Peter Adam outlined a response to past injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal Australians. His first four points were:
1. Australia is God’s land, given to the indigenous peoples of this land.
2. It is right to apologise.
3. It is time to repent.
4. It is time to make recompense
Under his 5th point, "Recompense: a practical proposal" he lists nine steps we can take. Those are the steps I want to highlight.
i. ...recognize that recompense is a duty and responsibility, that we owe it to the indigenous peoples of this land...
...out of respect for them as our brothers and sisters made in God’s image, and out of awareness of the vileness of the crimes which have been committed against them and their ancestors.
ii. ...recognize that recompense is based on our duty, not the needs of indigenous people.
I am not saying that we should not care, but that we must act with integrity and justice.
iii. ...recognize that no recompense could ever be satisfactory,...
because what was done was so vile, so immense, so universal, so pervasive, so destructive, so devastating, and so irreparable.
iv. ...ask the indigenous people if they wanted those of us who have arrived since 1788 to leave ..., or to provide an equivalent recompense... .
Leaving would be a drastic and complicated action, but, as I have pointed out, it has happened in India, Africa, and Indonesia in the last sixty years.
v. If we do not leave, then we would need to ask each of the indigenous peoples of this land what kind of recompense would be appropriate for them.
This would be an extremely complicated and extensive task, but must be done.
vi. ...be prepared to give costly recompense,
lest it trivialize what has happened.
vii. ...then...adopt a national recompense policy, in the form of a Treaty.
It would need to be implemented locally, according to the wishes of each indigenous tribe.
viii. By negotiation, it could be a one-off act of recompense, or it could be a constant and long-term series of acts of recompense.
ix. We could also implement voluntary recompense by churches in a coordinated way,
and should include support of indigenous Christian ministry and training, as negotiated by the leaders of Christ’s indigenous people. Christian churches should lead the way in this, not least in supporting indigenous Christians and their ministries. For churches too have benefited from the land they use, and from income from those who have usurped the land.