OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Spirituality centre becomes reception centre for the displaced following floods

Friday, 18 March 2011

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – The Home Fund of the Australian Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) recently funded a new spiritual centre for Aboriginal refugees in the remote region of the East Kimberley in Western Australia, after their homes were destroyed due to flash floods. A statement from the Australian PMS, received by Fides, reveals that the heavy rains of 13 March, which precipitated the floods, transformed the Aboriginal community of Gija in Warmun into a torrent of mud. Many homes were washed away, others are completely uninhabitable. Floodwaters inundated the community and swept away many homes, leaving others sodden and uninhabitable.
The flood also swept through the adjoining Ngalangangpum (“Mother and Child”) Catholic school, flooding gardens, school buildings and the homes of three Sisters of St Joseph who live on the school grounds.
The flood necessitated the evacuation of 500 people, many of whom took refuge at the nearby Mirrilingki Spirituality Centre.
The Bishop of Broome Diocese, Bishop Chris Saunders, expressed his relief that “no one was seriously injured or killed” by the flood. Bishop Saunders said floodwaters continue to isolate Warmun by road but helicopters had airlifted most of the community out of the area to temporary accommodation in the towns of Halls Creek and Kununurra.
“It’s been a huge upheaval for the Gija. A lot of families have been separated. It’s a real social dislocation for them, they’ve lost everything.” Through the Home Mission Fund, Catholic Mission is a proud supporter of the works and programs of the Diocese of Broome. The Mirrilingki Spirituality Centre in Warmun is a place where faith formation, workshops and dialogue with indigenous people happens. The centre is able to accommodate families and groups for extended stays. (AP) (18/3/2011 Agenzia Fides)