Aboriginal Catholic Ministry

Please join us for a Kitchen Table Conversation!

Date: 17 August, 29 August, 11 September, 28 September, 10 October (7:00-8:15pm)

Time: 3:30-4:45pm

Location: Online via Zoom

What is a Kitchen Table Conversation?

A Kitchen Table Conversation is a wonderful opportunity to join with others and listen, learn and reflect on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum that will be held in the coming months.

What is the Referendum?

The referendum is the culmination of a decade-long process that gained momentum with the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017, when over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates offered an invitation to non-Indigenous Australians to walk with them to create a better future.

Join us for a Conversation!

These kitchen table conversations are your opportunity to come together as a community, better understand the issues and talk about the pathway forward.

To find out more, contact us at adultformation@catholicmission.org.au.

We appreciate your engagement and look forward to welcoming you online.

Yours in Mission,

Jenny and the Mission Formation Team – Catholic Mission


Register here:

This event is hosted by Catholic Mission

This event is an initiative of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council


NATSICC launches new website on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament – June 5, 2023

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) has launched a new website called “One Journey, Together” for Catholics to learn about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The website hosts stories and anecdotes from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, Catholic figures and Catholic organisations.

Bishop Charles Gauci of Darwin, said:

“As Australians we are at a very important time reflecting on the Voice to Parliament. I will not tell anyone how to vote, but it is my responsibility as Bishop to encourage you all to be reflective in the light of our faith and Catholic Social Teachings: the Common Good and the Dignity of all People.  We need the ongoing journey of reconciliation and healing. Whatever happens with the Voice will not solve all the issues, we are all on the Journey Together. Let’s make sure we are informed, and to see which is the best way forward for dignity and respect for all.”

The website hosts messages from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and community members, Bishops and other religious leaders and statements from Catholic organisations on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament to support the Catholic community to vote in a way that aligns with their Catholic values.

The website also has a range of activities and resources for parishes, including a prayer and a kitchen table activity, to support people to deepen their understanding of the referendum and empower them with practical tools for meaningful action.

NATSICC Chairperson John Lochowiak, said:

“We are proud to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and we are proud to be Catholic. Our shared faith calls on us to come together as one to uphold justice, and I encourage Catholics to take a look at the website and learn more about how they can engage in this important referendum.”

“By working together in a spirit of solidarity, we can create a more just and equitable society for all. And a great first step on that journey is to learn more about the Voice, and what it means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Australian Catholics. The journey to Reconciliation has been a long one, but it is a fundamental one, and I am proud to walk this path with the Catholic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Go to “One Journey, Together” website to learn more:

CONTACT: Jessica Stone 0490 684 878 / jessica.stone@caritas.org.au


NATSICC is the peak advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops. Established in 1992, the council has been a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics for over 30 years. In that time NATSICC has supported and empowered our First Nations communities to bring together their culture and faith as well as educate the wider Catholic Church on the gifts that Australia’s First Peoples bring to the Church.

Homily from Fr Andrew Hayes – Parish Priest of Holy Spirit Parish, Gariwerd (Ararat & Stawell) – May 28, 2023

A Long Way into the “Yes”

When the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum comes along, I expect to be voting “yes.”  There’s more debate to come but I’m a long way into the “yes.” The people who had their land and children taken continue to struggle. “Closing the Gap” data shows a systemic travesty. When one group of people languish in health, life-expectancy, education, incarceration rates, deaths in custody … we cannot continue with more of the same or be satisfied with the hope of incremental improvements. Deep listening is missing. It is time to be still and listen, really listen, hear what they hear, see what they see, not only for the first people, but for everyone.

Peter Dutton said two questionable things recently. To suggest that our first nations people are anywhere near “more equal” is a disgraceful distortion. They are so far from equal. He said that the Voice “will permanently divide us by race” and “re-racialise” Australia. I don’t mind that. Equal and race-blind would be great if we were equal and race-blind, but we’re not. Systemic travesty. The first people need to be heard.

I live in the foothills of Gariwerd. They say we have six seasons here. I only know about the ones they had in England. Time for me to be still and listen and learn the seasons where I live. And other things. I’m a long way into the “yes.”

Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Moments for healing this country

Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV), in conjunction with Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA), is pleased to invite you to join them for a series of webinars to learn more about the upcoming referendum on Constitutional Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the Voice to Parliament. They will be exploring questions like:

  • What is the history of the referendum?
  • Should First Nations Peoples have a Voice? And why now?
  • How has the Catholic Church engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples over time?
  • How might Catholic Social Teaching be applied to the questions that lie before us in 2023?

July 27:  Part 3 – First Nations Voices

Hear from a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: Uncle Ron Briggs (Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand), Aunty Violet Sheriden (Ngunnawal Elder) and Esmai Manahan Yorta Yorta Elder (MacKillop Family Services).

This panel discussion will be an opportunity to hear from First Nations People as they reflect on their experiences over time, their hopes and concerns for the Voice referendum in 2023 and what they may be asking of the Church, Catholic organisations and the wider community.

Register here!

Applying Catholic Social Teaching to the Voice Referendum and Reconciliation: Insights from Fr Frank Brennan SJ (Part 2 webinar)

Amidst the escalating debate surrounding the Voice to Parliament referendum in Australia, it is imperative to engage in thoughtful and well-informed discussions when deciding which way to vote. Recognising the need for such discourse, Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV) and Catholic Social Service Australia (CSSA) recently hosted a webinar (the second of three) with Fr Frank Brennan SJ, a prominent lawyer, human rights activist, and long-time advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Fr Frank offered insights into the application of Catholic Social Teaching, particularly to the ‘questions that lie before us in 2023 in regards to the Voice referendum and reconciliation more broadly’.

Read more.

–  FEBRUARY 13, 2023

Following the Prime Minster’s apology to the Stolen Generation, the Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Reference Group at that time, suggested to then Bishop Peter Connors that the diocese make a response to the Stolen Generation people in the our diocese.  Bishop Peter agreed and the apology was written and signed by himself, David Beaver, then CEO of Centacare and Maree Harris, then Convenor of the Social Justice Reference Group.  There was some media publicity at that time and the story was written up in Cath News.  The apology was later framed and presented by Bishop Peter to Ted Lovett from the Aboriginal Co-operative at the Second Diocesan Forum on Social Justice held late 2008.

The Ballarat Diocese was the only Catholic Diocese in Australia at that time that followed the Prime Minister’s lead and made its own statement of apology.

Download, "The Catholic Church Says Sorry"


The Apology to the Stolen Generations by the Australian Government in 2008 was an important step towards building a respectful new relationship between First Australians and other Australians.

On February 13 fifteen years ago the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd presented an official national apology to the Stolen Generations. The Stolen Generations were First Nations peoples who had been removed from their families and placed in institutional care. On the evening of the national apology, Ngambri and Wiradjuri Elder Matilda House performed the first Welcome to Country at Parliament House

More information can be found here.

Image above: Scarlet23, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Diocese of Ballarat was originally inhabited by Indigenous communities whose history extends for many tens of thousands of years.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land who have walked upon and cared for this country for thousands of years. We pay our respect to them and their cultures and to Elders past, present and emerging.

We deeply respect the strong connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to the Australian land and value the many gifts they bring to our community.

The best way to find out who the formally recognised Traditional Owners for an area is to consult the interactive map found here from Aboriginal Victoria.

As a diocese, we endeavour to acknowledge events associated with the promotion of reconciliation and respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders such as National Reconciliation Week, Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week.

Jeanette Morris is the Education Officer for Indigenous Education for the Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited.  Jeanette, through her mother is a proud Buanditj woman and also acknowledges Celtic, Scandinavian and European ancestry.  She became the first Education Officer – Indigenous Education for the Catholic Education Ballarat in 2002 and has held this position since then.  Jeanette can be contacted by email.

The peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Organisation in Victoria is the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (ACM) in Melbourne.  Consisting of four dioceses – Archdiocese of Melbourne, Ballarat, Sandhurst and Sale – Victoria is home to 8,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics. According to the 2016, 18% of all Indigenous people in Victoria identify as Catholic.

The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry has been serving the community for thirty years. Having undergone refurbishment, the ACM has a new chapel with stain-glass windows designed by renowned Aboriginal artist Richard Campbell and a specially made altar and tabernacle to represent the inculturation of the Catholic Church in Australia.

The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Manager for Victoria is Sherry Balcombe and below is a short profile of Sherry.

Contact details are:

Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne

434 St Georges Rd. Thornbury, Victoria 3071  |  03 9480 3849  |   sherry.balcombe@cam.org.au


Opening the Doors Foundation

The Opening the Doors Foundation is an Aboriginal-led community organisation supporting educational opportunities for Aboriginal children. The Foundation enables Aboriginal students to participate fully and equally in education, and supports their families to make their own choices about their children’s future. The Foundation believes that consistent support self determination are key to raising dreams and aspirations of the next generation.


A video has been launched to commemorate the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Opening the Door Foundation in 2021.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council


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