2018 NATSICC Assembly. Perth 1-5 October.

2018 NATSICC Assembly Proceedings

Strong Faith. Strong Youth. Strong Future.
Stong Faith. Strong Youth. Strong Future.

"It was my first Assembly, and I was so impressed by the keynote speakers, the participation of all attendees and the inspiring youth among us."

"What an amazing Assembly, so many wise and inspiring people, especially in our up and coming youth!"


Congratulations – it was so good! The feedback from our 8 delegates was just so positive and appreciative of it all."


                                                                                         assembly overview

 Australia’s First Peoples gathered in Perth from 1 - 5 October 2018 to explore the strong connections between faith, spirituality and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.


Over 270 delegates attended the week-long gathering, located at Technology Park in the Perth suburb of Bentley. The proceedings took place amongst the towering gums and lawns of the venue.


NATSICC assemblies occupy an important space on the calendars of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics and this year we adopted the theme ‘Strong Faith. Strong Youth. Strong Future'.


The exploration of faith occurred throughout the week in designated “yarning circles”. Following each presentation and workshop, delegates joined yarning circles to develop ways to apply the learnings from the talks into their own ministries and communities. The theme was very much focused on 'doing' and not just 'talking'.   Every speaker brought a unique aspect to proceedings. The traditional method of discussion facilitated authentic dialogue and resulted in the group developing a way forward for Australia’s First peoples in the Church.


A common theme is that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics have to work together for the better of the Church as a whole.


The 2020 Plenary Council workshop, led by Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins,  highlighted the commitment and yearning of Indigenous people to be included in the discussions. The voices of the delegation were strong  and displayed the deep faith and commitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


The number of attendees that made the trek west was larger than expected with young people, elders and seven bishops exploring the deep connection of faith and culture. People agreed to work together and the group as a whole has galvanised and offers their gifts of family, culture and spirituality to the Church of Australia.


One of the strong focuses for future work of the Church and community is to concentrate on the youth – they are the present and the future. The strength of our people and our youth was evident. We love our Church and we love our culture and the assembly was an opportunity to showcase both of those things.


Australia’s First peoples now constitute more than 130,000 of all Catholics in Australia, and numbers are increasing. Census data show that the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in the Church was approximately 7 per cent in the five years to 2016.



2018 Assembly web-page archives (information on keynotes, concurrent workshops and program)

Schools Leaders Day

Youth Assembly

Concurrent Workshops

Keynote Speaker information

Experience the event all over again

The speakers featured at the Assembly provided delegates with inspiring and thought provoking presentation. Each enriched the event by sharing personal experience, points or view and guidance for moving forwards.


Assembly Overview

A short overview of the proceedings at the Assembly.

Fr  Frank Brennan

Fr Frank Brennan has been an advocate and a friend to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for many years. In this presentation, Fr Frank offers his own thoughts on the way forward for Australia on the issue of Constitutional recognition in the wake of the Uluru Statement. A transcript is available here.

Please note that an adjunct resource and alternate point of view from Fr. Frank has been subsequently provided by the Uluru Education Project 's Dean Parkin. It can be downloaded here.

NATSICC Youth Team

An inspiring presentation by the NATSICC Youth team- Sabrina-Ann Stevens, Kodi Brady and Cameron Balcombe. Touching on faith, social justice, service to the community and accepting who you are - this is the talk that inspired the delegation to commit to the future of young people in the church!

Mary O'Reeri

Mary O'Reeri is a strong Nyul Nyul woman from the Dampier Peninsula community of Beagle Bay.   Her presentation focused on empowering young people and using culture and faith to strengthen the foundation of spirituality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Lana Turvey - Collins

Lana Turvey - Collins is the facilitator of the 2020 Plenary consultations. Lana travelled to Perth to present to the delegation and to host a series of workshops that included discussions in yarning circles and report back sessions. Here, Lana explains the 2020 Plenary process and the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.

Yarning Circle outcomes

2020 Plenary discussions and recommendations

After each presentation, delegates were encouraged to form yarning circles to unpack what they have heard and to discuss ways in which the new knowledge can be applied in their own communities and ministries.


Not surprisingly, many responses echoed others and we have been able to compile and categorise the responses into headings. BELOW ARE THE VOICES OF OUR ELDERS, YOUTH, LEADERS AND COMMUNITIES. THEIR VISION WILL TAKE US FORWARD.


  • We need Parish Priests to walk with us…walk the walk, not just talk the talk
  • Priests need to build genuine relationships with the local Communities.
  • Cross Cultural awareness training (including local history) to be a key part of training for all Clergy and seminarians (including foreign Priests)
  • Liturgically, Priests need to be welcoming of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture/ language/spirituality
  • Parishes need to be inclusive - ie. include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on Parish Committees
  • Clergy could wear Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Vestments
  • An effort needs to be made by Clergy to learn about and promote all Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Ministries
  • The group believes that Priests should be allowed to marry, as we are losing them to other faiths. Additionally, married Clergy would open up the door for Indigenous men to be take up the calling of the Priesthood as the vocation would be more culturally aligned.


  • Our leaders need to be approachable and meet us where we are at
  • Need to LISTEN to us
  • All parishes have a RAP - development of a RAP will require engagement with local communities
  • Cultural awareness training to be undertaken by Priests , Religious and lay people. See section below
  • Bishops need to ensure all parishes celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass in at least one of the Masses. THIS IS NON NEGOTIABLE.
  • All homilies should have spiritual input and use language that we can understand
  • Encourage all parishes to have an Acknowledgment Plaque in the Church
  • Need to ensure that every parish/priest has a Welcome or Acknowledgment of Country during the Masses
  • Value  local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries as holders of local knowledge and vast networks and resource appropriately.

Cultural Awareness Training

  • Within each Diocese...............................
  • EVERY Priest, Religious and lay person in pastoral ministry to have completed a minimum standard of Cultural Awareness Training, especially, but not only,  those who work with Indigenous peoples. NATSICC provides an online cultural awareness course
  • All Principals and teachers must have Cultural Awareness Training before they teach our children


  • Foster an inclusive environment -  ensure that more of our people are invited to be on PPC
  • Allocate space and resources for Indigenous peoples
  • Need to have Indigenous icons/artifacts/paintings etc in the churches/ schools/ hospitals
  • Need to nurture a strong connection to our culture
  • Have Acknowledgment plaques in place


  • All Priests should know about NATSICC and promote it
  • There should be improvement in information flow
  • Should there be a representative from remote communities on the Council?
  • Should have a rep on the ACBC


All of the colour and vibrancy of the Assembly


  • Youth Masses MUST include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples…they must be inclusive
  • Youth need to be empowered by the Church
  • Need to LISTEN to Elders, members of Communities and to God
  • Need to respect themselves and others
  • Need to be understanding of others
  • Need to know their story, their culture, their family, their Church and their faith and connect to these
  • Need to be open to guidance within the Church and Community
  • Need to have a mentor
  • Need more youth gatherings
  • Need to build leadership-not wait for others to do it-find role models
  • Need to create social media/website to share with all States/Territories
  • Need to be part of decision making
  • Need to be leaders in all Masses
  • Need to start youth ministries in both primary and secondary schools
  • Need to TRUST Elders and Community and Church
  • Need to connect to Country
  • Need to build relationships with each other and communities



  • Get youth connected to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spirituality/ Church/faith
  • Respect and understand and listen to youth and guide them
  • Ensure that youth have access to cultural education
  • Build bridges with the youth
  • Listen to them and their stories
  • Encourage them and support them
  • Listen, learn, empower, trust and love them and lead by example
  • Provide opportunities for youth to attend events, functions etc
  • Realise that the youth are the future in our Communities and our Church
  • Help them build their self esteem and self confidence




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2021 Assembly