palawa Anglican Resources

Aboriginal Flag Cathedral

“We leave base camp and start the trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in the movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

The Anglican Aboriginal Relationship Working Group (AARWG) develops opportunities and resources to support Anglican Church members to create relationships with Aboriginal people.

At the National Constitution Convention in Uluru in May 2017 the First Nations people presented The Statement from the Heart, calling on our Nation to reflect upon our histories, and to listen and embrace the opportunity to walk together for a better future.

Following the recent Diocesan Synod, the AARWG prepared this resource pack to assist our church to take steps in creating relationships with First Nations People.

Looking back over the 230 years since our European ancestors arrived, the First Nations People have suffered and endured appalling atrocities.

The Anglican Church, which was a prominent participant in the colonisation of this land, was complicit in the tragic history of the treatment of Aboriginal people which followed. Steps taken to create a listening relationship with Aboriginal people will provide many opportunities to listen to their stories and to move forward together.

In the concluding words of The Statement from the Heart,

“We leave base camp and start the trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in the movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

As we use this resource pack may we be open to the Spirit of Jesus, by joining our Aboriginal and Torres Strait First Nations Peoples to be a church truly sharing and showing the love of Jesus.


Lenten Studies - Walking Together

A series of Studies for Lent (and other times) to help Tasmanian Anglicans, and others, to explore how we build and foster meaningful relationships with the Original inhabitants of lutruwita/Tasmania

The AARWG has produced this series of Studies/Reflections, designed for use during Lent, or at other times.  Members of the Group each produced seven readings and reflections – one for each day of a week, with each week focussing on one of these themes.  Each reflection draws from one or more passages of Scripture, with some questions/comments, and a call to reflect and act.  Some weeks also have a separate short introduction.  We hope you find these Studies helpful in your own journey.  May the God who is relationship help us to build better relationships through them.

Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country

An Acknowledgement of Country is frequently appropriate. This is a statement by non-Aboriginal people that pays respect to past and present elders and the ongoing custodianship and ownership of the land by the Aboriginal community. It reminds non-Aboriginal people about the history of European invasion and creates an awareness of the need to build respectful relationships with the Aboriginal community today.

A Welcome to Country is delivered by a representative of the Aboriginal community. It is appropriate to ask an Aboriginal community member to deliver this at a range of events. It may also be appropriate at important official/government events as a way of placing importance on the ongoing Aboriginal presence and community living in the area.

Welcome to Country (smoking ceremonies) from Bishop Chris McLeod, National Aboriginal Bishop and Bishop Richard Condie: 

Smoking ceremonies are usually associated with services of welcome and acknowledgement of Aboriginal custodianship. The use of smoke has a long history within traditional Aboriginal cultural practices, which include both cleansing and healing. Aboriginal Christians readily interpret this ceremony in terms of the cleansing and healing brought to the world through the person of Jesus (1 John 1:7; 1Peter 2:24). The presence of smoke also reminds Christians of God’s eternal and guiding presence in the world (Exodus 19:9; Isaiah 4:5). Christians have long used incense to symbolise not only this, but the prayers of God’s faithful people (Revelation 5:8). Understood in the light of this, we can easily acknowledge the appropriate place of indigenous smoking ceremonies within Christian worship and public ceremonies.

A wider, but no less important issue is the acknowledgement that God did not arrive in Australia with the first fleet or colonial chaplain, Richard Johnson. God’s eternal spirit has been seen over the whole of creation since the dawn of time(Genesis 1:2). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians recognise that God has been in this land since creation. It is important to acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians do not leave their cultural identity and history at the door of the church, but worship God with the wholeness of our being and identity.

Truth Telling

As a first step toward building relationships with Aboriginal people, we encourage everyone to read the Statement from the Heart and the Australian Board of Mission’s publication, Listening to the Statement from the Heart, which encourages the Church to stop and listen. This study also gives us the opportunity to ‘listen’ to the art of Glenn Loughrey, a Wiradjuri man and Anglican Priest. A valuable, challenging read.

Some of the following books are available through the Tasmanian Library System.

There are many good books that explore the history of Black Australia. The AARWG recommends the following:

  • The Biggest Estate on Earth by Bill Gammage (2011)
    • This book uncovers an extraordinarily complex system of land and livestock management that shaped Australia to the “Gentleman’s Estate” that Aboriginal people had crafted over millenia.
  • Why Warriors Lie Down and Die by Djambatj Mala (2000)
    • A reflection on the experience of the Yolŋu people of North East Arnhem Land as they struggled to engage with the cavernous cultural divide. An invitation to listen and walk together.
  • Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (2018)
    • Bruce Pascoe reveals evidence that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing — behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. This assumption lay at the root of dehumanising assumptions that allowed genocide across the lands now called Australia.

For specific information about Tasmanian Aboriginal history, the AARWG recommends:

  • Van Diemen’s Land by James Boyce (2009)
    • Almost half of the convicts who came to Australia came to Van Diemen’s Land. James Boyce shows how everyone was changed in the natural world they encountered, Aboriginal, convict and free settler alike.
  • The Black War- Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania by Nicholas Clements (2014)
    • Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. Looking chiefly at the experiences and attitudes of those who took part in the conflict, contrasting the perspectives of colonists and Aborigines, Nicholas Clements details raw personal accounts that shed light on the tribes, families and individuals involved.
  • Forgotten War by Henry Reynolds (2013)
    • Since 1994 there has been a continuous program to commemorate the men and women who have served in Australia’s overseas wars from 1885 to the present, he writes; and yet conflict also accompanied the pioneer settlers into almost every district on the continent. It is this war ‘between settlers and Indigenous nations’ that ‘made the nation’, Reynolds argues.
  • Tasmanian Aborigines by Lyndal Ryan (2012)
    • ‘A powerful and insightful historical account about a unique island and its First Peoples, their dispossession and their struggle for survival and cultural birth right/heritage that reaches from the deep past to the present day.’ - Patsy Cameron, Tasmanian Aboriginal author, cultural geographer and cultural practitioner. 

For biographies and historical fiction, read the following books:

  • Truganini by Cassandra Pybus (2020)
    • For nearly seven decades, Truganini lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than we can imagine. But her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Cassandra Pybus has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini’s extraordinary story in full.
  • A Crying in the Wind by Elizabeth Fleetwood (2017)
    • This epic and sweeping 200-year saga of an ancient island and its violent transformation from Eden-like paradise to the tourist-destination Tasmania of today, is told through the lives of four families. Aboriginal child Tom; the hard working Scottish Fairfield; the convict George Turner; and later the Dijkstras - displaced from Java and then from the Netherlands by WWII. This is raw history as well as the heart-warming story of ordinary people, loving, hating and battling along in a difficult setting, indelibly marked by their past, yet striving to rise above it and seek redemption.

Young people may find the following books more accessible:

  • Welcome to Country, An Introduction to our First peoples for Young Australians by Marcia Langton (2019)
    • An accessible book for the new Australian generations and works towards rectifying the wrongs of this country’s past. You will quickly appreciate how lucky we are to be the home of the world’s oldest continuing civilisation – which is both diverse and thriving in Australia today.
  • Young Dark Emu, a Truer History by Bruce Pascoe (2019)
    • Using the accounts of early European explorers, colonists and farmers, Bruce Pascoe compellingly argues for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. He allows the reader to see Australia as it was before Europeans arrived – a land of cultivated farming areas, productive fisheries, permanent homes, and an understanding of the environment and its natural resources that supported thriving villages across the continent.

If you would rather watch some history, the AARWG recommends the SBS series First Australians.

Explore the Issues

Over time this website will be updated with detailed explorations of Aboriginal justice issues, and key steps you can take as Christian seeking to faithfully engage. Explore the following pages to learn more about specific Aboriginal justice issues:

If there is other content you are looking for to learn about Aboriginal & Torres Strait justice issues, please email Common Grace or speak with your local Tasmanian Aboriginal Organisation.

Find your local Tasmanian Aboriginal Organisation

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

198 Elizabeth Street Hobart
Phone: (03) 6234 0700

182 Charles St Launceston
Phone: (03) 6332 3800

53 Alexander Street Burnie
Phone: (03) 6436 4100

Children’s Centre
838 East Derwent Hwy Risdon
Phone: (03) 6234 0730

Aboriginal Health Service
56 Patrick Street, Hobart
Phone: (03) 6234 0777

Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance (TRACA)

TRACA is an alliance of seven Aboriginal organisations spanning most of Tasmania. TRACA was developed to provide a mechanism to engage and advise Government at all levels in regard to affairs affecting Aboriginal Tasmanians.

Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation
(North West region)
10 King Street
Smithton TAS 7330
Phone: (03) 6452 1287

Flinders Island Aboriginal Association Inc
(Flinders Island)
16 West Street
Lady Barron TAS 7255
Phone: (03) 6359 3532

Melythina tiakana warrana Aboriginal Corporation
(North East)
18 Auburn Road
Kingston Beach TAS 7050
Phone: Jo Cameron (mobile: 0488 008 999)

Parrdarrama Pungenna Aboriginal Corporation
(East Coast and Tasman Peninsula)
Phone: 0475 701 180

Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation
(Central and Northern Coast
Po Box 147
Latrobe TAS 7307

South East Tasmania Aboriginal Corporation
(South East)
30 Beach Road
Kingston Beach TAS 7050
Phone: (03) 6240 5483

Weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation
Kirkby Lodge Missionary Road
Trumpeter Bay Road
Barnes Bay TAS 7150
Phone: 0408 890 178