Mick Gooda, leader of the Aboriginal and Social Justice Commission, addressed the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in Sydney on 22 November. Mick Gooda is a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland.
Gooda said that since 1972, the Catholic Church had defended Aboriginal people's rights to land, employment, housing, education as paramount rights.
Commissioner Gooda spoke about the apology expressed by the national Parliament, which acknowledged past mistakes, (such as taking Aboriginal children from their families and putting them with white families) and promised to make steps toward a reconciled Australian future.
"This is a journey that moves us along the road to freedom and human dignity which Australia owes her people. It is about looking forward and moving forward as a nation. It is a journey that can help build healthy relationships, necessary for an agenda of hope", said Gooda.
The Commissioner also told the Bishops that "the most important thing they can do for Aboriginal people is to go into communities and listen to them", explaining that "relationships are built on understanding, dialogue, tolerance, acceptance, respect, trust and reciprocated affection ".
The presentation was warmly received by the Australian Bishops. On behalf of the Assembly, Mgr Christopher Prowse, President of the Episcopal Commission for relations with the Aboriginal people, thanked Commissioner Gooda, promising the closeness and support of the Christian community.