The ACM 1984 to 1996 [Timeline]

This time-line has been compiled from discussions among members at the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne.

All the events listed here, from cake stalls to international guests are important to us. They are part of our struggle to create and develop a ministry to meet the spiritual needs of Aboriginal Catholics in Victoria. These events have helped bond together members of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, and so we wish to keep alive their memories.

By recording the events of our foundation and development on this time-line we are providing documented evidence of our emergence from invisibility. This evidence is important to ourselves and our supporters and should be especially important to those people to whom we have been 'the invisible ones'.

Artist Jillimablu (George Riley), a descendant of the Djabugay people of North Queensland, who now lives in Melbourne, has depicted significant events of the time-line below. Jillimablu's paintings show the movement of the spirit as we journey towards acceptance.

1984 & 1985

A group of Aboriginal Catholics begins to meet informally in their homes in Melbourne and at St Francis Church in the city. Sr Andrea Watt RSM is a friend and supporter of the group.
Sr Joan Hamilton RSJ meets Kaye Mundine, Nellie Moore, Richard Ambrose, Joyce Smith, and Aub and Barb Kinchella, and begins to 'walk alongside' them.


Using the name 'Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Group', they now hold regular meetings.
Joyce Smith, Jedda Kelly and Sr Joan Hamilton travel from Melbourne to Alice Springs to meet Pope John Paul II and hear his address to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They return full of enthusiasm and eager to develop their ministry, and to seek the sanction and support of the Archbishop.


Members of the ACM attend a conference of the newly formed ACM Sydney at Randwick at Easter, and gain inspiration from seeing an Aboriginal Catholic organisation running its own affairs and from witnessing Koorie liturgy in the Baptism of adults and children.
The ACM organises an Aboriginal Catholic Conference at Greyfriars, Mornington. Rev Hilton Deakin, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, visits the Conference and encourages the group to write a statement of their needs to present to the Archbishop.
Damien Charles is the first Koorie child to be Baptised at an ACM function.


The Bicentennial Year theme for Indigenous people is; 'White Australia has a Black History - Don't Celebrate!; ACM members march in support of Aboriginal heritage at Balranald, NSW.
Six members of the group attend the Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Council Conference at Toowoomba, to learn from a group which has been in existence for fifteen years.
The ACM receives its own place in December when the Archdiocese of Melbourne purchases a house at 493 St Georges Road, Thornbury, for the use of the ACM.


Archdiocese of Melbourne approves the use of the name 'Aboriginal Catholic Ministry'.
Fr Tom Nicholas SJ volunteers as part-time chaplain to the ACM.
Sunday Mass is celebrated at the ACM.
Sr Agnes Murphy RSM introduces the 'Lumko' method of reflection on scripture. The Lumko program, developed in South Africa, relates scripture to culture and to the everyday life of people.
Br Jim Cummins CFC volunteers to work with the ACM.
The ACM holds Second State Conference in Melbourne and a conference at Robinvale in Northern Victoria, to seek guidance from Victorian Koories and to spread the word of the ACM's work for Aboriginal Catholics.
ACM members visit Lake Mungo in southwest NSW (the spiritual country of some of the members) to record their heritage so that it can be shared with all Aboriginal people and with the wider Catholic community.
Two members attend a meeting in Cairns of the National Working Party to establish a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).
Fund-raising from cake stalls, and donations from supporters, finance the activities of the ACM, and help to furnish and equip 493 St Georges Road.


After four years of struggling for self-determination, funding is provided by Australian Catholic Relief to employ an Aboriginal co-ordinator, Vicki Walker.
The Archdiocese of Melbourne funds a part-time Aboriginal trainee catechist, Margaret McKinley, to work with the ACMMs children.
Joyce Smith and Vicki Walker attend the First National Conference on Aboriginal Spirituality and Perceptions of Christianity in Adelaide.
Richard Ambrose and Sr Joan Hamilton attend a training course on the Lumko method of reflection on scripture and prayer at Kincumber, NSW.
The ACM hosts the NATSICC National Working Group meeting at Kew. Vicki Walker is elected secretary to NATSICC.
First National Aboriginal Day of Commemoration (NAIDOC) Mass at St Francis.
Realisation of ACM's status to conduct Baptisms


Australian Catholic Relief provides an establishment grant to employ Alan Marsden as Outreach Worker to make contact with, and offer spiritual support to, Aboriginal people in country areas.
The ACM organises a conference in Adelaide the Second National Conference of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics to endorse the formation of NATSICC. A delegation of forty ACM members attends this historic event.
Fr Michael Gilbert CSSR and Fr Ed Ryan CSSR, volunteer to work as part-time chaplains to the ACM.
Sr Marg Hill IBVM begins to work with the ACM. Holy Week retreat at Gariwerd (Halls Gap) Re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross, with Aboriginal perspectives.
Koorie children receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at Gariwerd, and their First Holy Communion at St Francis during the NAIDOC week Mass, celebrated by Fr Chris Prowse.
Aboriginal flag raised for the first time at St Patrick's Cathedral during NAIDOC week.
The ACM organises the Third State Conference in Melbourne.
The Co-ordinator and Sr Joan Hamilton attend the World Council of Churches Conference in Canberra.
Nellie Moore goes to Italy to represent the ACM and to give a lecture on Silence, Self-knowledge, Identity at an international conference in the Southern Italian city of Lecce, and later meets Pope John Paul II in Rome.
Archbishop Little appoints Vicki Walker to the Victorian Council of Churches' Commission on Living Faiths and Community Relations.


Doug Smith is appointed as Outreach Worker; with funding from he Department of Employment Education and Training, and from the Victorian Bishops.
Commissioning of Eucharistic Ministers at ACM. Formation of Binnap Partners, a non Indigenous group working in solidarity with, and operating under the direction of, the ACM. Its purpose is to assist in the growth of the ACM.
Commencement of Binnap Seed cross-cultural workshops, to inform non-Indigenous people of the past and present history of the Koorie people in Victoria.
First Ecumenical Aboriginal Conference at Lake Tyers, Gippsland.
The ACM National Spirituality gathering for NATSICC at Kuranda.
Vicki Walker becomes adviser to the National Christian Brothers in Aboriginal Ministry.
Sr Lois Hannon RNDM and Sr Angela Kennedy IBVM begin to work with the ACM.
The Co-ordinator helps to establish Minajalku Centre an Aboriginal ecumenical ceremonial place in Melbourne.


International Year of The World's Indigenous Peoples: ACM and Binnap Partners respond to the great demand for Aboriginal Culture and perspectives throughout the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The ACM launches the national appeal for Project Compassion, and welcomes Bishop John Njue from Kenya.
Over 300 Aboriginal and Islander people from all round Australia, and more than a thousand others, attend the National Aboriginal Mass on the Yarra River. Organised by he ACM, this Mass is the opening function for the Liturgical Music Convention in April.
ACM members and Binnap Partners visit Lake Mungo, southwest NSW, for spiritual development.
First group of Koorie children are confirmed.
Australian Catholic University (Victoria) asks the ACM to help it to establish a Koorie Education Consultative Group.
The ACM contributes to the Social Justice/Native Title forums in the four Victorian dioceses.
The Herald Sun nominates Vicki Walker as one of the greatest Victorians.
Sr Lois Young PBVM volunteers to work as book-keeper for the ACM.


A delegation of twenty ACM members attend the Third NATSICC Conference in Darwin.
Vicki Walker represents the Archdiocese of Melbourne at the first meeting of the National Council of Churches of Australia.
Retreats based on Aboriginal spirituality are offered to Year 12 students and adult groups ad Gariwerd (the Grampians) and in the Barmah Forest on the Murray River.
ACM members support the National Memorial Service at Lake Victoria southwest NSW, organised by the Sisters of Charity Aboriginal Awareness Project.
ACM develops a proposal for the commemoration of Aboriginal massacre victims on All Souls Day.
The ACM networks with Catholic agencies in creating 11 awareness of the National Inquiry into the Stolen Generations.
Sisters of Mercy in Australia invite Vicki Walker to be adviser to the Mercy Sisters Commitment to the Concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The first RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) candidates join the ACM.


ACM members begin to rewrite gospel stories in a culturally relevant way.
Two members of ACM commence studies for theology at Nungalinya College, Darwin.
Betty Pike commences traineeship at the ACM, sponsored by the Good Shepherd Sisters.
Binnap Partners and ACM organise an Aboriginal Art Exhibition at St Francis Centre.
Vicki Walker attends International Women's Conference in Beijing, China.
Vicki Walker norninated for the Philia prize for 'Vision and Initiative in Religious Work in Australia'.
ACM and Sr Marg Hill IBM, the Loreto Sisters and the Archdiocese of Melbourne sign a two-year contract of employment for Marg Hill to work for the ACM. This four-way contract between the ACM, the archdiocese and a religious congregation is the first of its kind in Victoria.
Sr Genevieve Jeffrey PVBM and Sr Joan Murphy PGs begin to work with the ACM.


The Archdiocese of Melbourne gives approval for the sacraments to be celebrated at MinajaIku Centre, and the first Aboriginal Mass is celebrated at Minajalku.
The ACM, in conjunction with the local Aboriginal tribe welcomes Cardinal Martini of Milan to this land. Vicki Walker nominated, twice, for the Mercy Found Award for Achievement in the Field of Social Justice.
In response to Patrick Dodson's call for a re-commitment to Reconciliation, the ACM offers 90-minute Reconciliation Workshops to the wider community.
Melissa Brickell commences at the ACM as Aboriginal Cultural Parish Worker.
Joe Geia joins the ACM team, offering a cultural program of Dreamtime stories, music and dance to schools and other groups.
The Sisters of St Joseph invite the ACM to participate in a ceremony to commemorate the babies laid to rest unmarked graves (1901 - 1942) from St Joseph's babies Home, Broadmeadows.
Binnap Partners and ACM organise a parade of fashions designed by Aborigines.
The ACM organises the exhibition Invisible No More to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the address of Pope John Paul II to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and to tell the story of the ACM.