Aboriginal Connections


We acknowledge the Yalukit Willam clan,
the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which our parish stands.
We pay our respects to them. May we walk gently here.


The Yalukit Willam clan
The Aboriginal people who lived in this area are known as the Yalukit Willam, a name meaning 'river camp' or 'river dwellers' (willam means 'camp'). The Yalukit Willam are associated with the coastal land at the head of Port Phillip Bay that extends from the Werribee River , across to Altona, Williamstown, Port Melbourne to St Kilda and Prahran.
The language of the Melbourne group belongs to three dialects: Daung wurrung, Woi wurrung, and Boon wurrung, and is part of a group of related languages collectively known as the Kulin group of languages , or the Kulin nation. 
The Reconciliation Garden
The Reconciliation Garden is situated on the Wright St side of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. This garden area was established as a place to reflect and contemplate the work of Reconciliation which acknowledges, yet transcends, all differences of race and culture.
Our plants have been specially chosen as they grow naturally along the beach and in the sand dune areas of the Port Phillip Bay coastline.
These species were present when the first Europeans arrived and so we hope that they will encourage you to reflect on the thoughts of the Indigenous land owners as they witnessed the Europeans entering their lands.

pdf The Reconciliation Garden

The Possum Cloak Sculpture

This sculpture was designed by Vicki Couzens, a Keeray Woorroong Gunditjmara woman from the Western Districts of Victoria.
The sculpture references a possum skin cloak. Possum skin cloaks were worn by Aboriginal people of South Eastern Australia and in particular by the tribes of Victoria.
Read more about why the Cloak was chosen to represent our parish community by downloading the information sheet below.
The Elijah Window
This window, located in the Elijah Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, depicts six episodes in the life of Elijah as told in the first and second Book of Kings.
Read more about the Elijah story as interpreted by the Aboriginal artist, Vicki Couzens, and the Aboriginal Artisans, Wathaurong Pty Ltd, who produced the glass panel, by downloading the information sheet below.
The Message Stick

Pope John Paul instructed the Church to “joyfully” receive the contribution that the Aboriginal people have to make in order “to be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be.” The use of Aboriginal symbols enriches the liturgy linking the Gospel message to this land – Australia.

On 23 June 2007, a special ceremony was held in the Cardinal Knox Centre to commemorate a number of anniversaries in 2007, including the 50th anniversary of NAIDOC Week, the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, the 15th anniversary of the Black Deaths in Custody Report and the 10th anniversary of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ Report.
During this ceremony two message sticks were passed by Aboriginal Elders to representatives of our parish and placed into our trust and care.
A message stick is a means of communication in Aboriginal culture. The message was inscribed on the stick and "passed on" so that everyone could receive the same message. The message that accompanies the message sticks in Catholic communities, is one of love, hope, forgiveness and peace. This is why it accompanies the Gospel - to remind the congregation that the message of love, hope, forgiveness and peace in the Gospe needs to be handed on.
It is our privilege to have the message sticks in our Parish, ever mindful of the sacred trust given to us.
• Bunjil, the eagle (Ancient dreaming ) - God the Father & Old Testament
• The Cross (modern Dreaming) - Jesus’ suffering & New Testament
• Campfire/Smoke represents the Holy Spirit/Penitential Rite
• The Coolamon (bowl) represents the offering of gifts/Eucharist/Reconciliation
• Southern Cross represents Christ’s Guidance/Australia
• The words of Forgiveness, Faith, Hope, Love - all symbols of Aboriginal Culture & Reconciliation

St Joseph's Message Stick (pictured left) was created by Joshua Kirby, son of Samuel Kirby who is from Wiradjeri and Mutthi Mutthi nations. Joshua watched his father make boomerangs and today tries to fill his father’s shoes. Joshua lives in Bendigo but Balranald is still his home. Today, Joshua enjoys teaching his grandchildren so that one day they will fill his shoes.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel's Message Stick (pictured above) was created by Derik Smith who is a Barkinji man living in the Mildura area. Derik likes to paint tradtional animals, spirit patterns and symbols. Derik enjoys football, darts and bowls. Painting his Dreaming Country is a way of teaching his three children their connection to their country.
(More information on Message Sticks can be obtained by contacting Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria).


The Coolamon

Being awake, being prepared, listening and waiting to the elders as they pass on the wisdom and law, is essential to Aboriginal culture.

The Victorian Aboriginal Catholic Ministry has entrusted to us a sacred ritual for each first Sunday of Advent. During this ritual we place in our midst a very strong symbol for Aboriginal women from the antiquity of the ancient Dreaming - The Coolamon.

It is a receptacle for carrying food, water and small babies. It is an appropriate symbol for Advent as we listen and wait for the coming of the Spirit Child to Mary who is also waiting and preparing.

So, as a sign of waiting for Jesus the Spirit Child and our Spiritual Food, we turn the Coolamon upside down at the foot of the altar. At Christmas the messenger bird Kookaburra, calls us to awaken to a New Dawn, a “New Dreaming”.

The Coolamon will then be turned upright to receive the promised Spirit Child who becomes our Spiritual Food in the Eucharist. The Coolamon, carrying the Christ child, will then be placed in the nativity scene.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday


Each year in our parish, we celebrate the life and culture of the indigenous peoples of our country. We celebrate the steps already taken to heal the hurt and harm that division has caused in our community. We re-commit ourselves to be leaders of reconciliation between all the cultures of our land and especially with aboriginal peoples.
Recognition is the beginning of reconciliation. Without recognising each other as human beings, as brothers and sisters, we cannot begin to speak words of healing.
Many Aboriginal people are Catholics. Many Aboriginal people value their spiritual and cultural heritage and see a strong connection between their Christian faith and their traditional culture.
Aboriginal tradition is based on wholeness and right relationships. All that has life was created to live in harmony. This harmony is kept in balance when persons, species and elements fulfil their purpose and live out their responsibilities.
The land is primary to Aboriginal spirituality. Catholics see God as creator of the land and recognise God’s continual presence there. The land presents itself as an invitation to respond and to go deeper in their journey of discovery of God.
People are priority in Aboriginal relationships. Aboriginal people live a life of mutual indebtedness to one another. Like the kingdom Jesus preached, all are included, all are important, all are looked after.
Aboriginal people see life as something to be celebrated with others: in dance, song, art, story and visiting sacred places. As in the Church’s sacramental celebrations, there is a renewed awareness of who one is. We use this first weekend of July each year to bring new vigour to our work of reconciliation.
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