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The sound of jubilee: 1971-2021. Tearfund 50th anniversary celebration.

Elders strengthening families Veronica Rosemary George in class

Church and Community Leaders Strengthening Families

Tearfund is partnering with Nungalinya College in the Northern Territory, as they deliver an accredited culturally informed Certificate II course that addresses violence prevention, building family wellbeing, and healing from trauma, grief and loss.

Story by Ben Clarke.


Target 13 of the current Closing the Gap report seeks to ensure that families and households are safe. Staff and students at Nungalinya college are all too well versed in the statistics that articulate that “gap”. They also know from experience that much of the activity around family violence, especially in remote communities, occurs after the fact rather than in prevention. This knowledge has informed Nungalinya’s new course “Faith and Family”, an accredited culturally informed Certificate II course that addresses violence prevention, building family wellbeing, and healing from trauma, grief and loss.

Since 1974 Nungalinya College, based in Darwin, has been equipping men and women for leadership roles in churches and communities. The college, supported by the Anglican, Uniting and Catholic churches of the Northern Territory has a long history of training and equipping First Nations leaders.

Elders strengthening families Sharon Roger in class
Sharon and Roger

Tearfund is partnering with Nungalinya College as they deliver the new Faith and Family course as part of their Applied Ministries stream. Currently they are working with 18 church and community leaders from three remote communities to give them tools to help their communities engage in violence prevention, improve communication, and to support each other through trauma, grief and loss. The participants are learning to integrate traditional and cultural patterns as well as Scriptural paths to healing.

Many of the participants are couples who already have leadership roles in their community and this training will help them deepen their ministry. Having multiple people from each community is a strategic decision that means the church and community leaders can have support and work together to strengthen families and households.

Elders strengthening families Veronica Rosemary George in class
Veronica, Rosemary and George in class.

This course has given me a clear understanding of what violence is, and thus the tools in how to help others who are experiencing violence.

Marlene Course participant

George, a project participant, says this course has “skilled us up making the future better for those who are suffering. It is good to see that the other students can take [this material] back to their community and teach and encourage them.”

This course is one of a number of similar projects Tearfund is supporting. Research indicates that intergenerational trauma is “a fundamental issue that has not been given sufficient attention... There is a lack of theories, models and practices specifically related to Aboriginal grief, and a lack of training, resources and support for Aboriginal Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workers.”1

Elders strengthening families Marlene wellbeing activity
Marlene with a wellbeing activity.

Marlene says, “This course has given me a clear understanding of what violence is, and thus the tools in how to help others who are experiencing violence. Be safe, look after your own health, seek God for wisdom, give each other help when in need and make a balance between yours and others needs”

Please pray with the Elders as they undertake this study. Nungalinya staff share that “these are deep, and at times, troubled waters, so please pray for His grace and protection over the teachers, the class of church and community leaders and the local churches as they wrestle with issues of forgiveness and boundaries.”


1. Wynne-Jones M, Hillin A, Byers D, Stanley D, Edwige V, Brideson T (2016) Aboriginal grief and loss: a review of the literature. Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin 16(3).

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Ben Clarke is a Supporter Engagement Officer for Tearfund’s work with the First Peoples of Australia.