A Catholic Mission Immersion gives a small group of students or adults unparalleled opportunities to move beyond being merely tourists through the long-standing partnerships that Catholic Mission has built with Indigenous communities around Australia. The purpose of an immersion is to allow participants to experience life, faith and justice from a new perspective and to inspire them to live a personal sense of their own Catholic “mission” when they return home.
A Unique Invitation
Catholic Mission’s unique position and history of partnerships over many years means that communities, parishes, and schools throughout Central and Northern Australia are open to sharing their lives in ways that very few tourists or visitors ever experience.
With a great sensitivity to millennia-old culture and traditions, acknowledgement of recent history, and within the current context of life, we are led by our hosts into an immersive exploration of culture.
Each group has its own unique experiences and opportunities to connect with and learn about the local Indigenous culture from the people met along the way. Participants return with a deeper appreciation of Indigenous cultures, which provides the base for future commitments to contribute to an Australian society built on the Gospel imperative of bringing about fullness of life for all.
Annual Combined Schools
The Catholic Mission Immersion is an annual event comprised of student groups in years 10 to 12 from combined Catholic schools from around Australia, in partnership with the Yolŋu people of North East Arnhem Land.
The 8-day immersion program allows students and their teachers to meet the Yolŋu People and experience their language, culture, and traditions on their stunning country in North East Arnhem Land. Learn firsthand the hidden treasures of their “bush university”.
This deep encounter with the Yolŋu People inspires respect and creates a sound foundation for a whole new level of engagement with Australian First Nations peoples.
Activities on country are led by Yolŋu elders and include a ‘Welcome to Country’, listening to dreaming stories, learning greetings and phrases in Yolŋu language, gathering bush tucker and plants for bush medicine, learning about sustainable land management, dyeing, and weaving pandanus baskets, traditional painting, spear making & throwing, fishing, fire making & learning how the Yidaki (didgeridoo) is made and played.
Guided by local Elders and guides, days on‑country are spent exploring the natural beauty of the land, visiting sacred sights, and discovering the spiritual connection that the First Nations people have held for more than 40,000 years.
Each group has its own unique experiences and opportunities to connect with and learn about the local Indigenous culture from the people met along the way. Participants immerse themselves in the Aboriginal stories of these places and return with a deeper appreciation, which provides the base for future commitments to promoting reconciliation and change.
School Leaders' Immersions
Catholic Mission’s School Leaders' Immersion program is designed to engage school leaders in deep learning lead by our hosts from Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The experience will help school leaders develop as educators to lead students and communities in healing the past and building a better future together.
Participants will spend 4 days in Darwin followed by 5 days in North East Arnhem Land where they will see, hear, learn, and experience spirituality and reality from the perspective of Aboriginal Australians.
The first part of the experience is a mix of studies and hands‑on involvement in Darwin, while the second stage on country with the Yolŋu people in North East Arnhem land provides the opportunity for further learning.
Experiences include listening to dreaming stories, learning Yolŋu language, gathering bush tucker and plants for bush medicine, learning about sustainable land management, weaving pandanus baskets, painting, spear making & throwing, fishing, fire making and learning how the Yidaki (didgeridoo) is made and played.
Catholic Mission’s immersion programs cater for individuals who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of First Nations peoples’ realities and lives and want to discover how they might play a part in bringing about positive changes in Australia for the benefit of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Often people have genuine love, care, and concern, but are uncertain about where to start or what they can do.
Sometimes we just need to head out and meet people where they are, listen, be open to learn and see for ourselves. The knowledge acquired can open a whole new perspective, leading to informed action and positive change. This visit is all about seeing with your own eyes.
As well as exploring a contemporary understanding of the realities of Aboriginal people on Larrakia country in Darwin, the immersion incorporates a day trip to Wurrumiyanga, Tiwi Islands and a chance to reflect on the experience among the natural beauty of Litchfield National Park.
Participants will be given unparalleled opportunities to move beyond being merely tourists through the long-standing partnerships that Catholic Mission has with the communities who welcome them within Darwin and on the Tiwi Islands. Time is set aside each day for reflection and prayer on what has been experienced as individuals and as a travelling group, and participants are challenged to think about how what they have experienced will shape their actions upon returning home.
Participants will be given unparalleled opportunities to move beyond being merely tourists. The visit is approached with a sense of “being with” others rather than “doing for” others. There is no service work aspect during the visit.
- Flights, accommodation, meals, and local transport.
- Insurance and Risk Management services.
- Local Guides, Elders and an accompanying Catholic Mission trained Facilitator for the duration of the immersion.
- All permits and entry fees.
- Donations and fair remuneration for Indigenous partners.
This is a 3-Phase Program
PHASE 1: A 6-hour preparation workshop held 4-6 weeks prior to departure, held at a time and place that is convenient for the group. The workshop is facilitated by Catholic Mission and prepares participants for what to expect, logistics, and how to sensitively and respectfully approach the experience to receive the most while on immersion.
PHASE 2: The on country immersion.
PHASE 3: A 3-hour review workshop facilitated by Catholic Mission in which participants debrief, discuss what they have learnt and review their experience. Participants reflect on what they are personally called to do with this new-found knowledge in living out their mission of cultivating a more just and compassionate society. They are particularly challenged to consider how they can promote reconciliation with their Indigenous sisters and brothers.
COVID-19 has meant that while our International Immersions are on hold, we continue to support our Host Communities and look forward to recommencing immersions once international borders reopen.
Vision of mission and immersion
Immersion is a powerful strategy in helping us understand and involve ourselves in Jesus’ mission. Through the immersion experience we come face to face with local people and recognise them as our brothers and sisters. We empathise with them and share their daily joys and sorrows, celebrating their richness and gifts, and feeling for their pain. We learn as much from them, possibly more, as they learn from us.
Guided throughout the experience by critical and prayerful questioning, we recognise that we are involved in and partly responsible for their reality in this global society
Security, safety and risk
The security and safety of all participants in immersions are the foremost priority in designing the immersion program. A suite of preparatory and precautionary measures are taken to ensure that risk is minimised as much as possible. Immersions will only proceed where risks can be managed to a satisfactory level.