Caritas and First Australians partners release joint statement on subsidiarity

23 Nov 2016   |   Media release   |   Statements

 John Lochowiak, NATSICC, CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes Program Manager, Lynda Edwards and Caritas’ Manager, First Australian programs, Sascha Costigan

Twelve organisations committed to advancing the wellbeing and rights of First Australians have released a joint statement on the principle of subsidiarity as it applies to Indigenous Affairs, accompanied by an artwork by Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation founder, Balang. T. E. Lewis.

Subsidiarity is a key Catholic Social Teaching principle which underpins all of Caritas Australia’s work. It holds that decisions are best made by the people most affected by them.

Caritas Australia and its First Australian partners are calling on the Federal, State and Territory governments and all religious institutions, service providers, not-for-profit organisations and businesses, which work with and seek the wellbeing of First Australians, to commit to this important principle.

The jointly developed statement asks that Indigenous community members are allowed to take the lead in creating and implementing policy that affects their lives, that they develop formal partnership agreements, ensuring an understanding of the importance of cultural values and knowledge, when programs are implemented across health, education, employment and other areas.

“This statement will be a cornerstone of a whole of community approach to authentic empowerment, determination and the rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be able to make decisions that ultimately affect their lives and their community.” CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes Program Manager, Lynda Edwards, said.

John Lochowiak, the Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) said

“Subsidiarity compels us to realise that the people closest to, and most affected by, the issues are the ones best placed to address them, with the help of the Government.”

“From the experience of the Council, programs that genuinely embrace the principles of subsidiarity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the most effective,” Mr Lochowiak said.

The statement was released this week at the annual Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community of Practice Forum in Canberra. The ACFID forum is focused on sharing knowledge on effective development in First Australian communities among government and non-government service providers.

The statement is accompanied by three program case studies which illustrate the effectiveness of subsidiarity in practice.

The artwork accompanying the statement, entitled, ‘Mimis Dancing under the Southern Cross’, is a limited edition etching by Balang. T. E. Lewis which features spirit creatures or ‘Mimis’, dancing under the Milky Way around the Southern Cross. The image speaks of unity, equality and harmony between two worlds through strong relationships. The statement and artwork will be presented at a future date to the Federal Government to serve as a permanent reminder to those who walk past it.

Caritas Australia is the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church. The agency has walked in solidarity partnering on programs with First Australians since 1972.

To read the full statement go to

Caritas media contact: Nicole Clements 0408 869 833 or

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names of people who have since passed away.

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