Faith in action
We each have a role to play in addressing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prison systems – lets start by pledging our support.Take the pledge
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Team is made up of:
You can find out more about Larissa Minniecon, Brooke Prentis and Shane Fenwick below.
Some of our ATSI Team: Tanya Riches, Larissa Minniecon and Shane Fenwick.
Larissa Minniecon is a Kabi Kabi, Gureng Gureng, Torres Strait Islander Aboriginal woman. She is also of Ni-Vanuatu heritage, with her great grandfather brought over from Vanuatu to work in Queensland’s sugar cane fields, in Australia’s own history of slavery that is known as ‘blackbirding’.
Larissa joins the Common Grace team as Team Facilitator of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice campaign team. She brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding with experience working in the area of global indigenous community development and specifically navigating the ideology of what it means to be authentically indigenous and authentically Christian.
It was through the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous Peoples movement that Larissa found a deep longing to continue her journey of searching her own indigenous identity and Christianity. Through this movement Larissa and her family were able to travel worldwide and meet other Indigenous Christian peoples, together searching Christianity through the heart of its Indigenous peoples.
Larissa hopes to create the Common Grace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice team to be a social mission force based on the concept of Aboriginal ‘Kinship’ system. This system is over 40,000 years old; our lore recognized it as a key indicator for governance and relationships.
Kinship is a system of responsibility that is spiritual and connected, the feeling of never being alone. Kinship in its easiest form was explained to me by a brother as this:
“The Aboriginal way of kinship is that - this is how they explained it to me - I’m responsible to you if you are my kin. If you are my kin and you are hungry, and you come over to my house, and my house is locked, and you have to break into my house to get some food, the offence isn’t that you broke into my house, the offence is that I had my door locked.”
It’s this responsibility that I have to you, my kin. And it’s that feeling of never being alone. That you will always have someone there for you, and it’s saying that you will be an extension to my family as I am to you, that these ties I make is more than blood-related. It reflects the love Jesus had when he died on the cross, the suffering and pain that lead to his death for his kin. And that’s what kinship is all about. That I have a responsibility now, as do you!
Brooke Prentis is a descendant of the Waka Waka people in Queensland. She is an Aboriginal Christian Leader and Senior Finance Professional.
Professionally, Brooke is a Chartered Accountant and one of only 30 Indigenous Accountants in Australia. Brooke has worked for 7 years for one of the Big Four Accounting firms and has worked for two Top 100 ASX listed companies. Brooke took a career break from Accounting 2 years ago and worked for 12 months as the Ministry Leader for the Salvation Army's Indigenous Ministries, part of which involved running an Aboriginal Church in Ipswich, west of Brisbane. Due to lack of funding for the ministry, Brooke has returned to Accounting and is a Financial Controller but is heavily involved as a volunteer Aboriginal Pastor and speaker.
Brooke holds a number of volunteer positions and one of her key roles is as the Coordinator of the Grasstree Gathering, a national and multi-denominational conference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders.
Brooke has a committment to working ecumenically with all different church denominations and individual church congregations. Some of her ecumenically activities include involvement with CTIPP (Churches Together Indigenous Peoples Partnership) which is a commission of the Queensland Churches Together (QCT).
Brooke speaks in a number of churches of all denominations, and secular organisations about cultural awareness and issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Brooke seeks to invite non-Aboriginal people to journey together with the oldest living culture in the world and follows Jesus call to love all people, and speak out against injustice.
You can hear Brooke reflecting on National Sorry Day on this powerful podcast hosted by the Centre for Public Christianity. Have a listen as she discusses the concept of friendship, the breadth of injustices faced by Indigenous people, and the way she understands being an Aboriginal and a Christian person in Australia today.
Shane Fenwick is a young Christian from Sydney, who is passionate about seeing God's love transform individuals and communities. Professionally, Shane has worked with asylum seekers and refugees, and currently works for Mission Australia with youth at-risk of homelessness. Shane is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in theology, and has a particular passion to see "theory" and "practice" come together. He believes theology is best done "on the margins", walking alongside those whom Jesus would have been - and is - found with.
Growing up on the northern beaches of Sydney, Shane had rarely - if ever - encountered anyone from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It wasn't 'till a school trip up to Yarrabah, an Aboriginal community in North Queensland, that he first encountered the welcome, compassion, and love of Aboriginal peoples. Ever since, Shane has built on his relationship with his 'family' in Yarrabah, seeking to listen and learn. In 2014, Shane was privileged to spend an extended amount of time living in Yarrabah learning more about Yidindji culture, and was given a traditional name by his Uncle David. For Shane, he is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice because, first and foremost, it is about the flourishing of his own brothers and sisters. To quote Lilla Watson, Shane see's his liberation as "bound up" in theirs.
Through his involvement with the Common Grace team, Shane hopes to see the Australian Church equipped and empowered to stand alongside its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters. Particularly, he hopes to see non-Indigenous Christians be in friendship with Indigenous Christians. Shane believes that the Gospel is key to such friendship, for in Christ, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all... are one in Christ Jesus."