Aboriginal Catholic Ministry

–  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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