12th Assembly 2009

Support for Nungalinya College

“Nungalinya is like a holy or sacred place for us. We think about it with reverence.”

Graduate of Nungalinya College, the Rev. Rronang Garruwurra from Elcho Island, was speaking in Sydney at a Friday lunchtime elective at the national Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia.

“As I reflect on my time studying there, I remember many colleagues,” he said through an interpreter, “and their ministries in many places. Some have now passed away.”

College principal the Rev. Dr Lee Levett-Olsen explained that Nungalinya College was “the only ecumenical theological college in Australia”. It is recognised as a theological and pastoral training college for ministers in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches.

Nungalinya trains men and women for leadership roles in churches and communities, and in exploring the Bible and Christian faith contextually. It provides pathways for Indigenous youth to gain an education and craft futures for themselves and their communities.

The college is situated in Casuarina, a northern suburb of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory.

Dr Levett-Olsen shared with the small group that “recent years had been very difficult for the college, because of the federal intervention into the Northern Territory which had caused so much damage” to Aboriginal communities.

“The intervention closed down Community Development Employment Programs and took away many decisions from the people,” he said. “In a whole lot of ways the intervention is undoing much of the good work done over the decades.”

Dr Levett-Olsen urged Assembly members to support Nungalinya College in prayer and with practical assistance.

Mr Garruwurra agreed. “It is my hope that Assembly gathered here will continue to see Nungalinya as a vital partnership to be supported,” he said.

“Nungalinya College is part of our heritage, it is part of us. We will carry it with us forever.”

For more information, see the Nungalinya College website.