Indigenous community work sparked love of teaching


September 22 2015A former banker and accountant, an ordained priest and passionate champion of Indigenous education — the CV of college chaplain the Revd. Suzie Ray is certainly an interesting one.

Revd. Ray worked for the ANZ bank for eight years, including time in Bangalore, India, before she began her theological and education training in 2007.

She joined Beaconhills College, Berwick Campus in 2011 as a lay chaplain and was ordained in 2013. But her first taste of teaching came during her theological training when she travelled twice to the Northern Territory to work at Nungalinya, a training college for Indigenous Australians.

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Nungalinya is a Combined Churches Training College where people can gain the necessary skills for leadership roles in churches and communities.

During her summer break in studies, Rev. Ray decided to return to Nungalinya with her husband David to help with administration and prepare business cases, while her husband volunteered in music production and IT. She then found herself in a teaching role.

“A teacher got sick so I became a teacher!” she said. “They asked me to teach about Genesis, so I was teaching 10 Indigenous women from remote communities.”

Revd. Ray believes Nungalinya’s work in helping support and record Indigenous languages, to educate people in basic English skills and essentially learn to “navigate the white ways” of Australia, is invaluable.

“Nungalinya is the most practical, successful model I’ve ever seen because it’s a genuine partnership,” she said. “It is Indigenous-led and tailored around what Indigenous elders tell us they want.

“There are so many people going through this College who come out with real hope, direction and sense of purpose. I’m really passionate about it.”

Beaconhills staff help support Nungalinya at their annual staff service. To find out more, go to www.nungalinya.edu.au