Project Dreaming Tracks
In 2002 Project Dreaming Tracks, a Cross Cultural Outreach Project began as an independent incorporated agency. It was based on the same principles and policies as social inclusion and community development with strong Aboriginal leadership and involvement reaching out to people of other cultures who had come from experiences of dispossession and trauma. Sr Margaret Costigan was missioned to this project.
The programs were designed to enable participants to grow in self-esteem and confidence. It also gave participants a welcoming and friendly place to meet.
The programs included an Art program which allowed those who wanted to to produce and display their artwork. It also included producing cards, bookmark making, and candle decoration.
The garden program commenced with a pot plant program and eventually grew into an Indigenous garden featuring many native plants and shrubs.
Another feature of this program was the Disability Outreach. This incorporated working with the Justice System which provided opportunities for replacing the traumatic elements of their lives with activities that brought pleasure and enhanced learning skills.
Reaching out to other cultures was also a feature of this project. It allowed for overseas students to do field placements, working alongside many participants, volunteers and staff while maintaining best practice and integrity.
Project Dreaming Tracks involved networking with other agencies and it became known and respected for its non-political, non aligned healing and welfare work.
Ministry in the Northern Territory
In 2015, Sr Leone Wittmack was missioned to work with CatholicCare NT. This organisation provides social services, and other counselling services and also endeavours to be a voice for people in need throughout the Northern Territory and into the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia.
As the General Manager for Mission and Culture, Leone works closely with all the staff and has the opportunity to visit often the 14 sites from which CatholicCare works. These include, Alice Springs, APY Lands in South Australia, Darwin (Berrimah and Malak), Daly River, Finke, Jabiru, Katherine, Maningrida in West Arnhem,, Palmerston, Santa Teresa, Tennant Creek, Titjikala, Tiwi Islands , Wadeye (Port Keats).
With 30% of the staff coming from an Indigenous heritage, she has learned much about Aboriginal cultures and languages not only from the staff who walk beside their own people but from the people themselves who live in this vast beautiful remote part of Australia while at the same time being touched by their resilience as they live their lives in poverty and marginalisation.
Other Ministry Opportunities
Awareness raising in our Schools and Health Services:
As Sisters took up positions on Boards and Executive positions, Sister Administrators, Directors of Nursing and Directors of Mission, the awareness raising of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was passed on and encouraged.
This continues today through our Colleges opening their doors and giving scholarships to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and in our Health Services Reconciliation Actions Plans have been developed. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff have been employed in significant positions helping to bridge the gap by highlighting the health needs of our Aboriginal people, our first Australians.
Sisters of Charity Foundation
By establishing the Sisters of Charity Foundation the Sisters through this part of their ministry continue to give money in the form of scholarship to young Aboriginal people to further their education. They also provide grants to various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects throughout Australia and thereby enabling these groups to provide better outcomes for their people.
A number of our Sisters as part of their Spiritual Renewal opportunity have spent time in remote Aboriginal Communities in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal Spirituality and their connection with the land. In the Social Justice area the Sisters continue to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as they seek justice and equality for their people in their own land.
Read more on the early work of the Sisters of Charity in this ministry here.