Hope in the Australian outback

Restoring hope

In April this year, World Vision’s Simon Duke had the opportunity to attend the first Channels of Hope Bush Camp for churches in Lajamanu; a small town in the Northern Territory which is home to the Warlpiri people. Here, Simon – who is World Vision’s former Channels of Hope Project Manager for the NT – explains the significance of this event.

Channels of Hope has been an integral part of World Vision’s approach to community development for many years. Largely carried out by faith leaders – who are often the most influential in a community – these training sessions help to address issues and stigmas around HIV and AIDS, child protection, maternal and child health and gender-based violence. In our work in the Northern Territory, a big focus of Channels of Hope is gender-based violence.

Urgency rising on domestic violence

In Lajamanu, there is an urgency rising up amongst congregation members and leaders to address domestic violence. Along with World Vision’s Faith and Development Advisor for our Australia Programs, Grant Paulson, I recently had the opportunity to witness this important step in the community’s Channels of Hope journey. Together, we watched as local facilitators skilfully led congregation members through the training, helping them unpack and discuss many important issues.

In our Bush Camps and teaching on Sundays we have had a lot of focus on Jesus and what he has done for us but we haven’t talked much about Genesis, or about how those stories change how husband and wife should be treating one another. This one was a really good one … really important this one … really powerful,

Jerry Jangala Patrick, who is Senior Pastor of the Lajamanu Baptist Church and a revered Warlpiri Elder.

Another male participant said to the group during one of the studies: “You know, a lot of men in our community think they can boss woman but this is showing us we’re equal and need to support women … even helping around the house or with kids.”

Another reflected: “What I see is that men after business think they are untouchable and can do what they like because that business makes them a man, but Wapirra (God) is showing us men shouldn’t be acting like that … real man will still go to business but also have respect and take responsibility for himself and his family.”

Strength in unity

A final thought was offered by local Channels of Hope facilitator Andrew Japanangka Johnson; “We can’t face this one on our own but if we stand up as church members against this and be strong, and stand with Kurdiji (the local Justice group) and staff, especially Yapa (Warlpiri) staff from Safehouse, Night Patrol and Police, we have hope things can change for the better … domestic violence is touching too many people … but we have to be strong together.”

Learn more about our work with Indigenous Australians here

Read more Channels of Hope: tackling gender based violence in the Solomon Islands

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