A Lament for Australia

1 Remember, O Lord, what has happened to us;

look, and see our disgrace.

Our nation has ignored and denied the inheritance of ancient cultures,

the desert, fresh water, and sea peoples,

who’ve lived here for 60,000 years.

Over 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations have been displaced,

lands and children have been stolen.

We ask for recognition and basic human rights,

dignity and freedom for all Australians alike,

the end of children, women, and men in inhumane and abusive detention.

Those who pursue us are at our heels;

we are weary and find no rest.

We submitted to those who introduced new diseases, forcibly acquired lands,

and thrived on violent conflict and colonization.

Our ancestors invaded this beautiful land and are no more,

but we, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples together,

bear the shame and enmity and suffering.

Slavery, colonization, and invasion oppressed us,

and we cried out for freedom from their hands.

We get our bread at the risk of our lives,

young and old are imprisoned and forgotten.

10 Our skin is hot as an oven,

chained, beaten, imprisoned, and murdered, in the blazing outback sun.

11 Colonizers have violated women since Australia’s earliest days,

and we mourn Stolen Generations.

12 Children and adults have been hung by their hands, murdered and driven off cliffs,

elders are shown no respect.

13 Children and youth are in our jails, separated from culture and family,

mothers are in refuges or on the streets.

14 The elders still speak, but our nation does not listen,

the Dreamtime continues to show our nation another way.

15 Joy is gone from our hearts;

our dancing has turned to mourning and lament.

16 The crown of colonization and cultural superiority has fallen from our head.

Woe to us, for we have sinned!

17 Because of this our hearts are faint,

because of these things our eyes grow dim,

18 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,

with loan sharks, drug dealers, corrupt officials, and others, prowling about us.

19 You, O Lord, reign forever;

you live among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations,

and among non-Indigenous Australians,

on this beautiful and sacred and ancient land,

since time immemorial.

20 We witness the vibrancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures,

your presence in art, music, languages, beliefs, and practices.

21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;

renew our days as of old,

22 unless you have utterly rejected us,

and are angry with us beyond measure.

23 Restore to us a heart of flesh,

rid us of our heart of stone.

24 Restore in us a desire for justice and truth,

a desire to see all people restored to their place and lands.

25 Speak to us through your Spirit,

present in the voices and cultures and desires of ancient and modern peoples.

26 Rid us of one-sided or superficial calls for reconciliation,

and lead us toward true lament and repentance and justice.


A lament in response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in detention. Click To Tweet

A Lament for Australia, in response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in detention. And in response to the legacies of colonialism, the extent of ongoing disadvantage, and entrenched forms of institutional racism and discrimination. Based on Lamentations 5, and inspired by Soong-Chan Rah’s book on the importance of lament.


Graham Hill

Dr Graham Hill is the Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project – www.theglobalchurchproject.com. He’s the author of “GlobalChurch: Reshaping Our Conversations, Renewing Our Mission, Revitalizing Our Churches” (IVP, 2016), and 3 other books.

© 2016 All rights reserved.
Copying and republishing this article on other Web sites, or in any other place, without written permission is prohibited.

Want to get your hands on more, see our subscriptions


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our mailing list now for FREE resources

You have successfully subscribed! Get 100+ free videos here: https://theglobalchurchproject.com/videos/

Share This