From the 11th to 13th October 2022, Catholic Schools NSW and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta will co-host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Education NSW State Conference. We invite to participate in this significant event thus contributing to our efforts to ‘Close the Gap’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The Conference brings together education and community practitioners to share unique perspectives on building systems and practices that allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive. We anticipate attracting over 500 delegates including staff, students, community, and leaders of Catholic schools across NSW.

The conference theme ‘Transforming with the Spirit’ reflects a commitment to make a difference to the lives of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is an opportunity to more fully understand the contribution we can all make to reconciliation and healing. The program will feature presentations on country experiences and discussion panels from local and national keynote speakers. There will be up to 50 sessions, including panel discussions and workshops.

This will be a transforming event that you would not want to miss!

Key Dates

Early Bird Registration Closes
25 July 2022

Abstract Submissions Close
30 June 2022

Abstract Presenter Registration Deadline
31 July 2022

The Conference acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this Nation.

We commit ourselves to the ongoing cultural, spiritual and deep connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to country.

Hosted by

About the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Education New South Wales State Conference 2022

Catholic schools educate around one in five students in NSW, including working with families and communities for great outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. Our strong commitment to Closing the Gap is founded in our Catholic faith.

The 2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference is proudly hosted by the Diocese of Parramatta. This conference will welcome non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal participants from across NSW.

The 2022 Conference will provide a unique opportunity for people to explore effective and culturally appropriate strategies and current practices targeted towards Closing the Gap in educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young peoples.

It is also an opportunity to play an active role in the process of reconciliation by strengthening existing networks. It will be an experience that inspires ongoing relationships and partnerships leading to greater opportunities for students. On Country experiences will align with the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders connect with Country and with each other.

If you are currently in a leadership position and/or areas responsible for incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content, perspectives, culture and pedagogy in your school across Catholic Education systems in NSW, Do not miss this opportunity to learn, explore and the journey with Aboriginal Education in our Catholic context.

Spirit Over all Things


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Education New South Wales State Conference 2022

Our artist Uncle Chris Tobin, Darug Elder, was commissioned to bring to life through art  the student’s interpretation of the theme of the CSNSW State Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference ‘Transforming with the Spirit’


Working with students from St Canices, Katoomba Uncle Chris took their individual creative ideas as inspiration. This interpretation for Chris was seen as “Spirit Over All Things” inspired by one of the Sky Spirit stories from the Blue Mountains.

The Sky Spirit is believed to be the Great Spirit who created us, gave us law, and walked among us before returning to the Sky Country or Spirit world where he watches over us still.

In this story, it is said He was sitting on the cliffs one day watching a beautiful rainbow when a huge wind arose and shook the rainbow so much it shattered into pieces.

As the pieces fell to the ground he blew on them and transformed them into Dragonflies (who have since shared that beauty throughout the rest of the country)

The title of the work recalls a lovely response given by an Aboriginal man from Botany Bay during a royal commission in the 1800s. When asked whether “Black fellows” believed in God or heaven and whether they would be punished for things they did wrong and rewarded for good etc; to which he kept answering “Some do, some don’t..” When asked what he believed about spiritual matters, he simply replied “I believe there is something over all of us”

“Spirit Over All Things” art by Uncle Chris Tobin

Conference Themes

What needs to be said? What needs to be heard? What needs to be experienced? What needs to be enacted?

Community Connectedness and Pathways

  • What can we create together?
  • What might a hope filled future and pathways accomplish?
  • How do we better activate student voice and choice?

Aboriginal Spirituality and Dreaming

  • Deep Listening – What is Dadirri?
  • How do Catholic and Aboriginal spirituality and sacredness connect?
  • What does it mean to walk in two worlds?
  • Identity and Dreaming – connections, intersections and perspectives?

History, Story and Journey

As a Catholic community

What can we do together to transform the future for our young people?

How do we together harness the conference experience to refine the best of what we do now?

What do we draw on to empower, connect and call to action?

  • History of the local community – truth telling, Dreaming
  • Communities – stories of reconciliation, healing, walking together
  • What is the journey we are creating?
  • Why on country experience?

Healing and Reconciliation

What do we need to understand to heal?

  • Country
  • Relationships

What needs to be different?

  • Close the gap of understanding
  • Embrace Identity

Organising Committee

Maura ManningDirector Learning Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta

Mary CreenauneHead Student Services Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta

Sharon Cooke State Manager, Aboriginal Education Catholic Schools NSW

Alma GeorgeManager Diverse Learning Needs Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta

Joanne Hack – Head,
Curriculum & Assessment,
Catholic Schools NSW

Andrew MellasEducation Policy and Regulation, Catholic Schools NSW

Julie Waddell – Student Services Coordinator – Jarara Indigenous Education

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