A Story of Freedom & Unity: Aboriginal College celebrates 50 years of Empowerment

The resonance of unity and the echoes of liberation reverberated at Nungalinya College in Darwin on the 19th of August 2023. A congregation of more than 300 individuals converged to commemorate the remarkable journey of this sacred place over half a century. Founded in 1973 to cater to Aboriginal adult students and nurture future leaders, the College’s Golden Jubilee unfurled in a splendid tapestry of events.

The celebratory day unveiled a mosaic of experiences, including dual screenings of an evocative documentary titled “Freedom,” masterfully crafted by Warwick Vincent (teaser above). Attendees embarked on guided explorations through the captivating Garden of Eden and the poignant Way of the Cross. Creative expression flourished in art and weaving workshops, followed by a sumptuous dinner that nourished both body and soul. The evening crescendoed under the starlit sky with fervent prayer, joyful songs, and spirited dancing, choreographed by impassioned leaders representing various communities across the Territory.

FREEDOM: At the heart of Nungalinya College’s narrative lies the distinction of being a Registered Training Organisation (RTO 01). This distinction signifies its pioneering status as the “first registered training organisation of its kind in the country.” Over the past five decades, a captivating tale of Education, Faith, and Culture has unfolded, culminating in the bestowal of spiritual and physical freedom upon numerous remarkable Aboriginal families across the Northern Territory.

L to R: Current Principal Ben Van Gelderen, with four generations of College Catholic Deans, a role that calls one to give their whole heart to students on campus: Regina McCarthy (first College Aboriginal Dean), Sr Robyn Reynolds (First Catholic Dean), Dean Chisholm (current Catholic Dean) & Carol Muller (Catholic Dean from 2013-2020).

Each Catholic Dean is supported by the Catholic Church in NT, and by Catholic Missions and the MSC Mission.

UNITY: The very fabric of Nungalinya College is interwoven with unity. Conceived as a collaborative initiative of the Anglican, Catholic, and Uniting Church in the Northern Territory, its impact resonates on both educational and spiritual fronts. These pastoral denominations together oversee the education and pastoral care of countless Christians who have graced the College since its inception. Each year, the College warmly welcomes 300 individuals, most hailing from the remotest lands of our Northern Territory.

Gratitude extends to the Larrakia people, who have lent unwavering support to the College’s vision since the 1970s. Their generosity in gifting the land, as well as naming the College in honour of their ancestral rock along Casuarina beach, exemplifies their commitment. A pivotal milestone was reached in 1995 when the College welcomed its first Aboriginal principal, the revered Larrakia Man, the late Rev. Wali Fejo.