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Sharon Varcoe, a Narungga women from South Australia, celebrates the life and ministry of Aunty Pat Waria-Read who has encouraged and supported her as a spiritual mother and mentor.

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Aunty Pat Waria-Read


Sharon Varcoe, a Narungga women from South Australia, is a member of the Adelaide Aboriginal Berean Community Church. Sharon celebrates the life and ministry of Aunty Pat Waria-Read who has encouraged and supported Sharon becoming her spiritual mother and mentor.

"Aunty Pat Waria-Read is a woman of God, a daughter, sister, aunty, mother, grandmother and great grandmother and friend, not only to her family but also to the wider communities. She is an Aboriginal elder in Adelaide. Aunty Pat is the daughter of Winnie Branson who became an Aboriginal female Activist for Aboriginal equality 1967-1971. It is obvious where Aunty Pat gets her love, passion and motivation from, for her people, is from her mum Winnie.

"For the past 10 years or so, Aunty Pat has been working along side Pastor Donald Hayward and she has been an integral part of the Aboriginal Berean Community Church. She has been a vital member of the Church Leadership Council and has played a very important part in the decision-making process and the acquisition of their very own church building.

"Aunty Pat has been a key leader around creating the Women’s Fellowship, a Ministry that meets regularly on a fortnightly basis. Aunty Pat has had a Ministry in Chaplaincy within the context of the Aboriginal Community Church and in the Prisons within Adelaide.

"Aunty Pat and her friend Margie are also a part of a volunteer Organisation called Salt and Pepper. They have a passion to support, work with and advocate for the Women in prison and post release clients. They offer support, refer these women to appropriate services providers and encourage engagement into their family units and the community. This is a big part of Aunty Pat’s ministry.

"She is also involved in the Nunga Court where she sits in on the local Court hearing with the Magistrates Judge as a Community Aboriginal Elder and is given the opportunity to speak with the Judge and all Aboriginal offenders and advocate for them as well.

"Aunty Pat is also the Chairperson of the State Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance which aims to ‘empower ATSI women to have a strong and effective voice in the policy advocacy process’, Aunty Pat is also the SA Representative on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance which ‘works to deepen the skills of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women in telling their stories, identifying solutions for individuals and communities and advocating for powerful and long lasting change’.

"For a few years now, Aunty Pat has opened up her home for Prayer ministry. Weekly prayer meetings are held at Aunty Pat's place every Tuesday night and the numbers continue to grow.

"Furthermore, Aunty Pat is a survivor of breast cancer. Aunty Pat was able to overcome this awful disease. She completed many courses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and she still continued doing God’s work.

"Aunty Pat has been an overall blessing to our church, our families and our community. She has encouraged and influenced so many people and so many lives. Aunty Pat is the kind of person who will encourage you, support you, love you, discipline you (in love) and welcome you into her heart, home and life with open arms.

Thank you, Aunty Pat, for everything."

– written by Sharon Varcoe

This post is the second in our NAIDOC Week series "Because of her, we can!" celebrating Aboriginal Christian women who have shaped our lives, our churches and our nation. This story was shared by Sharon Varcoe, an Aboriginal Christian leader with The Grass Gathering and member of the Aboriginal Berean Community Church in South Australia. NAIDOC Week Artwork by Cheryl Moggs.



'Health & Happiness'
Yaritji Heffernan
Nations: Anangu (Pitjantjatjara) (SA)
Lives: Adelaide

'Aunty Yaritji remembers a time as a small girl when her people were healthy and happy. Her people lived off the land from what God provided. The water was clean and the bush tucker plentiful. Her people were tall, strong, fit, and healthy. It was a happy time. Aunty Yaritji remembers the happy times.'

Yaritji is a singer, a preacher and an artist. She is a member of the Adelaide Congress Ministry Church Council. She speaks a number of Aboriginal languages. She was born in the bush out near Mulga Park Station. She loved school at Ernabella Mission, and after school was involved in the Ernabella Art Centre with a range of projects. She has been living in Adelaide for some time now.

Throughout this week we are sharing artworks from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who are part of The Grasstree Gathering network. These artworks are being shared with permission of the artists, and are not to be copied or reproduced. They are currently on display at The Grasstree Gathering Art Exhibition at Newtown Mission in Sydney, available for public viewing this coming weekend. If you would like to purchase an artwork from the artist please email grasstree.gathering@gmail.com.

"Because of her, we can" - NAIDOC Week 2018