On the weekend of 24-25 September Whitley College hosted a conference called Constitutions and Treaties: Law, Justice, Spirituality – these are notes from session 3 of 9. We acknowledge that this gathering, listening and learning occurred of the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nations and offer our respects to their elders past and present, and all visiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island visitors present.

What are the drivers and transcendent values that inspire us?
What are the pathways to change?

9830410   We live in a polemic/binary time… issues like gay marriage, immigration… seem to have no middle ground – you are either for or against. Tolerance for diversity is at an all time low.

This way of arguing gets used manipulatively too… if you aren’t with me you’re against me – in ways that close the conversation down… what are some examples we can think of?

  • faith and justice
  • recognised and sovereignty
  • for the intervention or for child abuse

It is an Aristotelian idea: 2 ideas – thrash them out = one truth

Previously you had to be broad spectrum because you couldn’t afford to alienate anyone. Now the ways we access media and communications, we get exactly what we want to hear – an echo chamber…

  • hard to hear voices from the edges
  • hard to hear, listen, and engage different ideas
  • minimal dialogue and openness to being convinced

Need a strong spirit to imagine a non-polemic future… how do we change without losing our souls?aboriginal-spirituality

What is lost and found in translation?  Getting a (white fulla) education… what do I lose of my own culture and identity?
Industrial revolution and reason vs. everything has sacred significance.

Government talks to a small slice of who we are and how we understand the world.

I want to explore the sacred internal emotional resources that sustain and empower people:

Land, language, law, kinship, ceremony – 5 areas that make up a Strong Spirit.

img_1961Polemics can replace cultural identity… what do you do when a section of your strong spirit has been lost or damaged?

Identity not fused with the fight… not defined by or stuck in the fight. Overcome by the oppression/pain of where we are.

  • conservation (what we don’t want to lose)
  • restoration (actions to restore/share/teach/pass on)
  • innovation (new and adaptive ways)
  • respect (is our work underpinned by mutual respect?)

Strong Spirit audit tool: what have we got/not got?


We need to remember who we are.
When our weapons for warfare start to look like our colonisers I start to worry.

(not just post-colonial reactions)



Can’t rely on vehicles as they are (old and rusted car), won’t get us the whole way (breaks down) we need a new way of getting there (highly modified car).

walk on country
reconnect with people and place
“I’m going back in my memory” (one word that means this), where are you going?[at the kitchen table, able to reflect and be present at the same time]
dardirri (deep listening)
yarning circles
dinner table