CTIPP's overall purpose is to help churches work together for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The geographical focus is Queensland.
CTIPP endeavours to:
- promote an understanding of Indigenous cultures and spiritualities and their significance not only to the churches but to the wider Australian community;
- promote an understanding of our shared history and the ongoing social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous people;
- encourage involvement in programs that redress this disadvantage, promoting mutual respect, acceptance, justice and equity for all.
In February 1998, the member churches of Queensland Churches Together made an historic commitment to work towards partnership with Indigenous peoples of Australia. In so doing they acknowledged the injustices which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had been facing for over 200 years.
No unity without reconciliation
It was not, however, simply a recognition of inequities in Australian society. The commitment showed that the integrity of the Christian faith in Australia required the pursuit of a genuine partnership between Indigenous and other communities across the land. As an ecumenical council, QCT acknowledged that there could not be true unity between the churches without reconciliation between the different peoples of this land.
How did QCT's member churches arrive at this point?
In 1992, after ten years of consultation and collaboration, the High Court of Australia granted Native Title Rights to the Meriam people.
"Churches Together Mabo Group"
It was this decision, along with the vision of reconciliation and the death in custody of Daniel Yock in 1993, that led a small ecumenical group to come together as the Churches Together Mabo Group.
Initially the group was concerned with raising awareness within the Church of the need for reconciliation and a better understanding of the issues surrounding Native Title, deaths in custody, racism and social justice.
The role of the Churches Together Mabo Group was to bring churches into contact with justice issues that affected the 'way of life' of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Where possible the group also aimed to act as a conduit between the churches of Australia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It sought to collaborate with other organizations in the pursuit of justice.
The group saw the need to employ an Indigenous person to co-ordinate the group's activities and to ensure that church leadership was informed of the impacts of Government policy and intervention on Indigenous communities. Funding was sought to this end. The Roman Catholic Church provided some seed funding, and other member churches of Queensland Churches Together (QCT) later followed suit. Joan Hendriks became the first Coordinator of CTIPP.
A commission of QCT
The Churches Together Mabo Group was officially constituted as a commission of QCT and adopted the name of Churches Together Aboriginal Partnership (CTAP). CTAP later became CTIPP – Churches Together Indigenous People's Partnership – to reflect the inclusion of Torres Strait Islander people and history in the program.
CTIPP is currently funded through contributions from the Anglican, Catholic, Uniting and Lutheran Churches as well as by small grants. Additional funding is being sought – and donations are very welcome (see Support QCT).
The activities of CTIPP are designed to promote reconciliation within the Christian churches in Queensland and to help them become agents of reconciliation in the wider community. In the initial years of the programme, the focus was on workshops held by the Coordinator and volunteer resource worker of CTIPP in church communities. In this way many people heard stories told by Indigenous people, stories of injustice but also of celebration and resilience. The listeners learned to connect these with their own stories. In a non-threatening atmosphere, participants reflected on the separate and shared histories of the different peoples of Australia.
CTIPP facilitators always emphasize the contribution Indigenous people make and have made to many walks of life in Australia, including the churches.
Workshops such as the ones carried out by CTIPP help non-Indigenous people to:
- develop an understanding of the causes of the present disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people in Australia;
- create a church that is inclusive and Indigenous-friendly;
- observe and respect Indigenous protocols;
- relate sensitively to Indigenous people in the local area;
- create opportunities for local communities to learn from each other's cultures, spiritualities and ways of living with the land.
An exciting new future lies ahead with CTIPP - one in which workshops like these may still form part of the way CTIPP works, but in which new avenues will be explored to share the stories and forge reconciliation.
The CTIPP Coordinator collaborates with other community organizations with similar aims. This may mean, for example, helping to organize a community commemoration on Sorry Day (26th May) or joining in with celebrations for NAIDOC Week.
CTIPP works closely with NATSIEC, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Council, which is part of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).
Joan Hendriks served CTIPP and QCT for many years, retiring in 2005. She was followed by Paula Coghill (2005/2006), Georgina Corowa (2009-2013), Kerry Chalton (2013).
For many years Sister Joan Murphy of the Good Shepherd Sisters has been working as a volunteer with CTIPP, providing administrative support, doing research and presenting some parts of the workshops. Sr Joan continues to serve CTIPP in this way.
The CTIPP Committee is an advisory body made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives of several of QCT's member bodies. The Committee meets every two months, with sub-groups helping to plan particular activities. The Committee members support the CTIPP staff person and help shape policy for the program within the overall framework of QCT.
Our CTIPP Committee members are:
- Brooke Prentis (Salvation Army)
- The Revd Alex Gater (Anglican)
- Aunty Rose Elu (Anglican)
- Ravina Waldren (Catholic)
- Kerry Charlton (Goori Consultant and facilitator)
- The Revd Canon Bruce Boase (Anglican and Chair)
- David Miller (Catholic)
- Joan Murphy (Catholic)
- Raelene Baker (Salvation Army
Click here to download the CTIPP 2016 AGM report.
For current and planned events related to the work of CTIPP and partner organizations, see Calendar.