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Women's Commission visits Top End Catholic women

The Commission for Australian Catholic Women has returned invigorated from a visit to the Northern Territory, where its members listened to the concerns of women who feel marginalised by distance and lack of opportunity.

Chairperson Geraldine Hawkes described the Darwin and Alice Springs meetings as "humbling and spiritually enriching".

She said: "The Commission focuses a great deal on listening to the needs of people in rural and regional Australia, and this was a wonderful opportunity to extend that focus to the people of the Northern Territory."

Commissioner Joan Hendriks spoke of the focus on attempts of indigenous women to come to terms with the past and move towards a "life-giving future". Discussions included the use of ritual in remembering, and the sharing of compassion in the movement towards healing.

Commission members met with groups of women, priests, senior school students, hospital chaplains, students of Nungalinya theological college, Centacare and Catholic Education Office employees and the Chief Minister Clare Martin. They also visited the Aboriginal community on Bathurst Island and helped look at ways of promoting the participation of women throughout the Diocese of Darwin.

"There were not many dry-eyed people in the room from where I sat," said Commission member Therese Vassarotti. "I believe we all got a sense of lonely despair and isolation, yet I was uplifted too that from within the group there was hope."

Commission for Australian Catholic Women

Commission for Australian Catholic Women
Bishops' Women's Commission reports interest in community building (19/6/02)
Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus (Social Justice Statement 2000)
Catholic Diocese of Darwin

8 Jul 2003