The Northern Territory
The Northern Territory has the smallest population of the Australian states and territories and a much higher proportion of Indigenous people than the rest of Australia. The 2016 census indicated that 25.5% of the Northern Territory population are Indigenous compared to the nationwide figure of 2.8%.
The Northern Territory continues to record the highest death rate in the country, 7.3 deaths per 1,000 population, reflecting the high death rate among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Of the 1,044 deaths registered in the Northern Territory in 2016, 42.4% were Indigenous deaths.
Some 64% of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory speak an Indigenous language or Kriol at home. English is a second or third language for many Indigenous people. Bible translation is in progress in 19 language groups. 26 languages have a portion of the New Testament and about 13 may still need translators.
There are six Aboriginal Anglican parishes in or near Arnhem Land in the northeast of the Northern Territory. Eight men have been ordained since 1978 but death and illness have reduced the number of those fully active in ministry to two. In most churches, a faithful group of lay people is involved in leadership. There is a need for the gospel to reach out more widely, particularly to children and young adults.
The gospel came to Arnhem Land with white people of considerable economic, medical and political power not long after the emergence of the pastoral industry that resulted in many Aboriginal deaths. Even now, the relationship between Aborigines and Europeans is unequal and this may influence Aboriginal views of Christian faith. There is a need for the Lord Jesus Christ to be seen as God’s person for all races, not as a European, and for Aboriginal church leaders to unravel some of these cross-cultural issues.
The Kimberley Region – Western Australia
Over the last 100 years there has been faithful and fruitful gospel proclamation among Aboriginal peoples in the Kimberley region.
However, Aboriginal churches in the area remain small and there is a great need for a strong gospel witness to the next generation. Broome, the regional centre of the West Kimberley area, is a coastal town with a population of about 14,000. 21.4% of the population is Indigenous and represent diverse Aboriginal languages and cultural backgrounds. Many other Indigenous people from surrounding communities travel to Broome to access services and to visit family and friends.
- Region: North Australia
- Capital: Darwin (NT), Perth (WA)
- Population: 0.2 million (32.5% Indigenous)
- Religions: Protestant 30.2%, Roman Catholic 23.1%, no religion 25.6%
- Languages: Many Indigenous languages; most Indigenous Australians speak English as a second language