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The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development Fund (ATSIDF)

Funding human development is a tangible expression of the Churches’ support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples to develop their communities and their participation in the wider Australian and international communities.

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Development Fund (ATSIDF), of the National Council of Churches in Australia, is a tax deductible fund set up to assist Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples by giving small, usually one-off grants for community development projects. The projects are funded through the NATSIEC annual Martung Upah Appeal.

How to Apply

Applications must be made on the appropriate form. Please read the guidelines before making your submission. Please note that grants over $5,000, or for recurrent funding, will not be considered. If you have any questions please contact NCCA on (02) 9299 2215  prior to submitting your application.

Download Application form 

document ATSIDF Application rev21 (348 KB)  (doc)

pdf ATSIDF Application rev21 (200 KB)  (pdf)

Download ATSIDF Guidelines

document ATSIDF Guidelines rev21 (185 KB)  (doc)

pdf ATSIDF Guidelines rev21 (262 KB)  (pdf)

Closing Dates for Funding Applications

Applications are received from July to March each year. 

Applications for the financial year ending 30 June 2024:

  • round 1 - CLOSED - Monday 30 October 2023 
  • round 2 - TBA

Applications are generally not received and assessed between 30 April and 30 June each year. However, we always welcome enquiries.

For information on the next assessment date please call 02 9299 2215 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Projects Funded in 2023 

1. Churches Together SA and Uniting Church SA - Theological & Biblical Approach to the Uluru Statement from the Heart Project $5000

2. The University of Divinity - 2023 Uluru Statement from the Heart Events $5000

3. St Oswald’s Anglican Church, Glen Iris VIC - First Nations Family Day during NAIDOC Week 2023 $5000

4. The University of Divinity - Raising our Tribal voice Conference  $5000 

School of Indigenous Studies - to contribute to the cost of flights, accommodation and meals for Indigenous theologians to enable their attendance at the Conference. 


Projects Funded in 2022

 1. Melbourne Anglican Cultural Organisation - St Oswald's Woiwurrung Language Project $5000


Projects Funded in 2021

1. St Oswald's School and Parish Aboriginal Awareness and Education Project $5000

Empower To Teach - website. Resources to support teachers in Indigenous culture and history education.


2. UAICC SA - Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress  - Vison, History and Theology of the UAICC $5000

3. Surrender Co - Indigenous Leadership Development - Christian Coaching with Young Emerging Leaders $3,467


Projects Funded in 2020

SNAICC Conference attendance - Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation $4,000

Two Elders and two young Aboriginal members of Baabayn attended the SNAICC Conference, Adelaide in September 2019.

The vision of the Conference was to empower communities to determine their own future where the rights of children, young people and families are protected.

"I am really excited to bring the information and skills that I learnt to implement in my own community at Mount Druitt at Baabayn." Jade

"The workshops were great and its good to see that our people are working very hard all over the country in their communities and remote areas and to see our young people taking on leadership roles.  These are our leaders of tomorrow and into the future." Jenny  


Developing Active Leaders - Bluearth Foundation $5,000

Bluearth Foundation ran a 10 week before school Active Leaders program for 40 students in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. The program aimed to address the need to incorporate more physical activity for students while at school. 

71% of school visits by Blue Earth have resulted in above average school attendance of indigenous students.


Breaking Silent Codes- Dixie Link Gordon and Belinda Mason $2,500

A group of First Nation women shared their journey out of violence to empowerment.

In March 2020 a group of Indigenous women from Australia, New Zealand, PNG and Pacific Islands travelled to the UN 64 CSW in New York to share knowledge on solutions for First Nations peoples in relation to the topic of sexual assault and family violence. They were able to share their collective wisdom with US Indigenous women, at a forum held at the New York Baha'i Centre. They met with key organisations such as Barrier Free Living and representatives of Australian NGO's. 

NCCA Safe Church Program - Safer Churches 9 Conference $5,177

Funding aided four Indigenous Member Church representatives to attend and participate in the Conference held at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane, QLD on 17-18 September 2019. 

Projects Funded in 2019

January 26 Prayer Service - Common Grace 

Bringing Christians together in prayer and education about the true history of this country.

January 26th Prayer and Lament Services were led by Aunty Jean Phillips and Brooke Prentis and were hosted in 17 churches across the country with over 2000 people in attendance nationally. Other churches were encouraged to participate using liturgical resources. 100 churches signed up to mark Aboriginal Sunday in their own services.

Funding enabled Common Grace to approach the services with resources so that Aboriginal Christian leaders could attend every event, making connections with local leaders and congregations, and leading the reflections and teaching times. 

Read the review by Brook Prenitis



Healing on Country -  Gimwuy Gallery $4,000

This project was a five day intensive week of art and Traditional Aboriginal healing practices.

Three artists, Indigenous and one non-Indigenous, from Cairns travelled to remote Bloomfield River and community of Wujal Wujal, located north of Cairns, and spent five nights camping. They met with artists from Wujal Wujal Art Centre (Bana Yirriji), and spent the days together, travelling by 4WD to a different location each day. They were directed by Traditional owners who gave permission to be on their country and set up camp for the day.​

  2019 7 5 Karen Hannah      Karen first finished basked   

"I felt a connection to people and Country that has now opened me up to explore future possibilities to learn more about my Aboriginal culture and to develop ongoing relationships with the women and the community." Karen (left)

 2019 7 5 Vikki Burrows Hannas visit 
2019 7 5 Vikki Burrows Hannas visit2 2019 7 5 Vikki Burrows Hannas visit3 2019 7 5 Vikki Burrows Hannas visit5

The group collected grass for weaving, built fire and cooked lunch, practiced guided meditation and smoking ceremony, did watercolour painting and went fishing. In this way they shared traditional knowledge and experienced opportunities for language learning and relationship building. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge was shared this way and proved beneficial in deepening the healing experience.

"Being together for the first time, and out on country with traditional owners was a powerful experience realising the importance of relationship to each other, to country, and the deep respect that evokes. For Traditional Owners to have the opportunity to take people out on country and share cultural knowledge, and spend time there themselves is an important opportunity. For visitors to their country it is an education and privilege."

Kuku Yalanji Elders Empowerment - Mossman Gorge Community Church $4,500

MGC 5Kuku Yalanji Elders Empowerment Project was a community Church Based project and culturally significant exchange that bought elders and families together for a series of workshops with the Youth and Children of the Mossman Community. The age group ranged from – Children age 5-18, Parents, guardian’s, community members & Elders

Elders from the Mossman HAAC Group, Elders Justice Group and the Mossman Gorge Prayer group all participated and attended regular sessions on a voluntary basis, working together with the younger participant’s on the following sessions:

  1. Photo Frame Bible Verse design & Scrapbooking
  2.     MGC 4       MGC 3
     MGC 6 children MGC 1
    MGC lunch gathering MGC 2
    Calendar Scrapbooking
  3. Pot Plant making & Bible verse labels
  4. Balloon Stress Ball
  5. Glucose – Diabetes Energy Pack
  6. Glass Vase Decorated Lamp
  7. Pamper Pack – Toiletries
  8. Driftwood Hanging Piece
  9. Church Flower Ensemble’s & Decorations
  10. Bible verses on Scrolls
  11. Traditional Aboriginal Dance & Culture
  12. Arts/Craft Crosses – Wall Hangings
  13. Threading
  14. Decorated candle bottles
  15. Language Songs
  16. Easter Celebration of painting the Cross

Workshops focussed on students between 4 -7 years of age. Suppporting schools and early childhood settings to promote and model respect, positive attitudes and behaviours. Creating a culture of respect and teaching children that violence in the home is "not OK" will be the key focus of these workshops.

Healthy Respectful Relationships - Cape York Gulf RAATSICC $4,000

HRR emotions pic

This project aimed to teach children how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence. Educating young children in how to understand their emotions of their family, friends and strangers. It focussed on how to build personal strengths, positive coping, problem solving, stress management and positive gender relationships.

The Healthy Respectful Relationships Workshop was delivered to children in the age group 4-7 years at two schools, Mossman State Primary School Prep Classes and Gordonvale State School Year 1 classes. The workshop focused on both Indigenous and non Indigenous students to promote and model respectful, positive attitudes and behaviours.

All the students participated and became involved in sharing their stories when they have felt sad, angry, scared and happy. 

  HRR 1    HRR 2    HRR 3   


Projects Funded in 2018

Data Projectors and screens for classrooms - Nungalinya College $ 5,000

Nungalinya College is a Combined Churches Training College for Indigenous Australians. The College is situated in Casuarina, a northern suburb of Darwin. The College runs a course in literacy and numeracy called Foundation Studies. The Bible is used to teach literacy and focus on understanding, and money is used as the medium for teaching numeracy. 

Teachers identified that data projectors and screens would be helpful aids in teaching these classes as good visual images make the classes more interactive and allow for better learning. Teachers are able to project the student workbooks on the whiteboard and fill them in as the students do. They can also project film materials and powerpoint presentations. 

 Nungalinya 2018.1  Nungalinya 2018.2

Assistant teacher Justine filling in the workbook.  

The advanced class using PowerPoint to assist teaching. 

Emerging and Established Indigenous Leaders' project, Melbourne 2018 - Surrender Australia $5,000

SURRENDER:18 Melbourne Conference was held in March 2018. The Leadership Engagement Project facilitated the participation and involvement of Indigenous leaders from around Australia. In attendance were 100 indigenous Christian leaders ranging in age from 16-80 years old from NT, NSW, WA, QLD, SA and VIC. SURRENDER18 Melbourne Conference provided a voice for Indigenous leaders through Yarning Circle workshops, Indigenous Dinner, Indigenous Night, & Display Stands.
SURRENDER has developed a strong network of Indigenous Christian elders and leaders who have advisory, design and planning input into the conference including the management of the Indigenous Bursaries.

  • ‘open source’ sharing of relationships and learnings
  • non western and marginalised world view theologies
  • Indigenous community participation
  • empowerment of Indigenous leaders
  • opportunities to demonstrate honour and respect for Indigenous peoples
  • long term engagement
  • listening and learning from marginalised voices

THE SURRENDER18 Conference provided a space for the wider SURRENDER community and church to increase their awareness of issues facing Indigenous ministries and their communities, and opportunities for partnership with churches and Indigenous ministries.

Photos from Surrender Melbourne 2018 

Surrender 201.1x350

Surrender 201.3

 Surrender 201.4x350  Surrender 201.2x350

Projects Funded in 2017

Kurdiji 1.0, Lajamanu community suicide prevention app - Kurdiji 1.0 project (with the Black Dog Institute) - $5,000

When a young man committed suicide in 2005, in the remote Australian community of Lajamanu, local Warlpiri elders said ‘Enough is enough’. Decades of western medical intervention had failed to stop indigenous suicides and, in 2005, Lajamanu’s elders took matters into their own hands. The Milpirri festival was established that year to spread the traditional ideas of ‘Kurdiji’ among their young people and to foster a sense of belonging. They began to fight for every single young indigenous life in their community.

The same elders want to bring Kurdiji into the digital age, with a community created app based on stories, ceremonies and law. They want to fight for all aboriginal lives, not just those in remote or traditional communities. They have partnered with an expert team including technologists, photographers and a leading clinical psychologist from The Black Dog Institute.

Kurdiji gx250

Three aboriginal people take their own lives every week in Australia, and suicide is the leading cause of death for young indigenous people. Young aboriginal people are now four times more likely to take their own life than their non-indigenous peers, and the suicide rate for young indigenous men is the highest in the world. There hasn’t been a suicide in Lajamanu since 2005.

The ideas of Kurdiji belong to a Warlpiri initiation ceremony of the same name. For most of Aboriginal history, these ideas were only accessible through Kurdiji ceremony or directly from elders in community. Warlpiri people are changing their laws, giving wide public access to these ideas for the purpose of saving lives. The creation of the Kurdiji 1.0 app represents a turning point in Aboriginal Australia and, we hope, will result in similar projects being launched in the future.

Using 3D visualisation of ceremony and dance, audio recordings, video and text, Kurdiji 1.0 will provide some of the cultural nourishment provided by initiation in community. The app will reach out to young people who can’t live on country, or who feel cut off or isolated. By reconnecting people with language, skin name, ceremony and law, this app will increase resilience by creating a sense of belonging. 

Media Centre Acoustic carpeting - Nungalinya College $5,000

The College has a media production centre on site where daily chapel services are held along with Certification II in Music and Certificate II in Media and Discipleship courses. The acoustics in the building had significant problems. Carpeting the chapel and classroom reduced the echo and provided a better environment for recording.
group small    Nungalinya 17 singing
The Media and Music programmes are a vital way to engage younger Indigenous Christians and encourage them to study.  

Indigenous Leadership Engagement - Surrender Australia $5,000 

The SURRENDER:17 Melbourne conference saw over 80 Indigenous Christians from Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Welcome to Country led by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr continued to be a significant space within the conference, gathering with people responding to the welcome from a multitude of different cultures. Workshops and the Indigenous themed Bible Study were well attended and received very positive feedback and a high level of interaction.

Indigenous and non-indigenous people affirm just how important the SURRENDER gathering is in orienting their hearts and minds to the issues of justice, healing and restoration that God desires for our land. Through learnings and journey alongside Indigenous Australians, the SURRENDER team not only facilitate content specific to these issues but also seek to model values in event design and hosting that reflect the God inspired aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

  Surrender 17.1  Surrender 17.4     Surrender 17.2      Surrender 17.3 

Projects Funded in 2016

Dareton Youth & Community Centre - Indigenous Ministries Australia, Global Mission Partners $5,000

Indigenous Ministries Australia was established by Global Mission Partners in 2013. It seeks to partner with and among Australia Indigenous people, focusing on Indigenous ministry and development. 

The Dareton Youth & Community Centre (DY&CC) is a safe space for Indigenous youth living in and around the Sunraysia town of Dareton in NSW, just over the Murray River from Mildura. It is the only centre of its kind in Dareton, a town with a population of approximately 700 people, almost half of which are Indigenous. Around 16% of the population is aged between 10 and 19 years of age. The wider Sunraysia region has many more Indigenous families and youth who frequent the Dareton township and facilities.

The DY&CC benefits Indigenous youth from Dareton and the wider Sunraysia district including the old Namatjira mission and Indigenous families and elders living in and around Dareton. The Centre provides a physical, spiritual, emotional and cultural safe space for local and Indigenous youth to do basic training, receive relational counselling and experience holistic transformation in a fun and engaging environment based on Christian values.

Local Indigenous leaders and elders participate in the management of committee of the DY&CC. 

Classroom furniture - Nungalinya College $3,330

Nungalinya College offers a range of different courses from Certificate I to Certificate IV. With the increase in student numbers it became necessary to furnish the classrooms with more desks and chairs. t once. The increase was a direct result of the decision to offer the Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, which has a strong focus on training leaders for the churches and the community.

Nungalinya College seeks to empower indigenous Christians from remote communities through education. Many students have very low levels of literacy and numeracy and have few prospects for work or further education. The College works closely with the churches in communities and all students are referred from their church.

Indigenous Leadership Engagement - Surrender Australia $5,000

Surrender’s Indigenous Leadership Engagement project runs through and in conjunction with a once a year large scale gathering, single night events, mentoring schemes, internships and other multiple day conference forums throughout the year in various states around Australia. The project strengthens Indigenous Christian leadership through the opportunity for networking and partnership as well as theological and practical teaching. It has led to increased awareness of issues facing indigenous ministry, wider community and opportunities to partner and support emerging leaders and ministries in this area.

Projects Funded in 2011

'Concerned Australians' - Gathering of Aboriginal Elders in Darwin $ 5,000

In May 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay visited Australia. While here she attended a significant meeting where around 40 Elders and Community leaders from all over the Northern Territory told her about their experiences under the NT Intervention. NATSIEC donated the money to 'concerned Australians' whose lobbying and advocacy were significant in ensuring this meeting with Navi Pillay happened. The money was used to top up monies for some flights, paid for others, contributed to fuel money for those able to drive and covered the costs of lunch before the meeting. Michele Harris, on behalf of 'concerned Australians' said that without NATSIEC's financial support much of this would have been impossible. The meeting was especially valuable, not only because of the Commissioner's presence but also because there was an awareness of the number of strong and powerful voices from across the Territory. Bob Randall said " it was an amazing meeting and gathering of family".

Projects Funded in 2010

Our Generation Film project - $10,000

Our Generation is a documentary film made by Damien Curtis and Sinem Saban in conjunction with the Yolngu of Elcho Island. The film documents the story of the Yolngu people in relation to the Northern Territory Intervention. As Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra says of the film:

"It's a very important story, finally a platform for the Yolngu to tell their deep concerns and aspirations for the future to mainstream Australia. To bring justice and peace to the downtrodden".

This grant particularly supported its release on the East Coast of Australia where large scale screenings and discussions were held in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.

The film is an important documentary and NATSIEC urges people to buy the DVD and to show it to their communities, their friends, their colleagues, where ever possible. The film can be purchased direct from the film makers at www.ourgeneration.org.au

Canonisation of Mary MacKillop - $6,000

NATSIEC supported five Catholic Aboriginal women to attend the Canonisation of Mary Mackillop in Rome. While they were in Rome the women also visited Aboriginal artifacts held in the Vatican museum. Also, they were part of a group which located the grave of an Aboriginal man from New Norcia who had been taken to Rome and who died there. They held a ceremony and paid their respects at his graveside.

Projects Funded in 2009

Teen Challenge Centralia - Champions Wild Camp - $5,000

The camp is an adventure based program for up to 12 troubled Indigenous youth from Alice Springs. This camp will help young people break the cycle of failure, substance abuse and crime resulting in jail or detention centres.

The Coloured Digger Project - Redfern $5,000

The Coloured Digger Project organises commemorative services in Redfern on ANZAC day. The aim of the project is to raise public awareness about the often largely ignored service and sacrifices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen and their families. Highlight the need for greater recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Servicemen and Servicewomen and to allow the community to come together to give recognition to all those who courageously served their country.

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Arts Fair - $5,000

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Arts Project which will culminate in a public community arts fair hosted by NACI Tandanya. The Community Arts fair will support and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in the community. The fair will also coincide with Tandanya's 20th anniversary celebrations.

Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne - Footprints Gathering - $5,000

To gather Aboriginal Catholics living in Victoria together to discuss issues of inculturation, education, employment and training in theology within Aboriginal Ministry. The gathering will reflect on past achievements, today and the way forward.

Projects 2008
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) Inc. - The Spirit Festival - $5,000

The Spirit Festival is a vibrant celebration of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture, music, art and dance and also featured football, netball, little athletics, a 3-on-3 basketball competition and par 3 golf competition. It was a unique opportunity for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to connect have fun and celebrate Aboriginal People and Culture.

St Alban's Youth Ministry (Yarrabah) - Trail of Hope: "The Journey" Youth Gathering $3500

This is the 4th conference of this nature and has grown in size and impact each time. This Christian gathering of Native, Indigenous and Aboriginal youth is filled with challenging messages, resourceful sessions, and lots of Christ centred messages through sports and other activities. It is designed to be part of a comprehensive strategy to establish much needed youth ministries among Indigenous youth. St Alban's youth ministry have been invited to be a part of this important gathering, and partner with the organisers to teach and resource Indigenous youth and leaders. The participants are funding their own air fares to attend this gathering. NATSIEC has provided funding to cover the cost of the registration fee for 13 participants.

Central Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agency (Rockhampton) Indigenous Youth Musical Development and Outreach Project - $5635

This project is about assisting Indigenous youth to both develop musical and performance skills. It is believed that through this the Youth will be able to develop better self-esteem and self concept, they will be able to express themselves and in doing so create a greater awareness of the issues they confront in today's society. Many youth will find alternatives to the social pressures to reach for drugs and alcohol to "fit in" in with the crowd. By enabling them to make the decisions about the direction they want to take during this project they will be better able to make decisions about the rest of their lives and the relationships they have with others. NATSIEC funded the purchase of musical instruments.

United Congress Funerals Portable PA System - $3156

NATSIEC funded the purchase of a replacement PA system which is used by United Congress Funerals, an Aboriginal non-profit organisation providing funeral services. The PA will not only be used for funerals, but also for other community activities.

UKpre-Lambeth Speaking Tour - $5,000

In July 2008 Aboriginal Bishop James Leftwich and Torres Strait Islander Bishop Saibo Mabo attended the Lambeth Conference in England. To take advantage of their presence in Europe NATSIEC organised a pre-Lambeth speaking tour. The Bishops spoke to several groups and parishes including the Churches Together in England and the World Council of Churches in Geneva. The aim of the tour was to promote solidarity and networking to assist in our advocacy and education work.

Funded in 2007

Inala Aboriginal Community Church – Durrak Qld - $5,800 for Youth Project

Skills development, education, and culture. Through planned and facilitated activities such as Aboriginal art, music lessons, singing, cooking lessons and health discussions, we aim to develop greater outcomes in the lives of our Indigenous young people. The project aims to provide intervention and alternatives for young people to participate in activities in a safe environment, social skills, health and cultural awareness to utilise in the church and community.

Aboriginal Catholic Ministry – Melbourne - $5,000 for distribution of A River Dreaming by Betty Pike

The funding helps the publication and distribution of a book A River Dreaming by Elizabeth Pike, Elder. The book presents the story of Betty’s finding of and growth in understanding herself as an Aboriginal person of mixed background and tells this through a re-telling and extensions of the story of the creation of the Platypus. The proceeds of the book will be donated by the author to support the Opening the Doors Foundation: Keeping Koori Kids in Education.

Jubal Aboriginal Corporation - $13,000 for kitchen equipment

Jubal is an Aboriginal owned and run place of retreat in Northern NSW. Jubal runs projects such as Youth holiday camps which are cultural and diversionary programs for Aboriginal youth. They also host other groups to run programs. Jubal has built a kitchen block but needed funding to equip it. Often the groups have more than 100 children and adults attending a five day camp, so it was essential to be able to provide proper meals. NATSIEC was able to fund a fridge and other essential equipment to enable Jubal to provide catering services to its groups. NATSIEC is also working closely with Jubal to develop a women’s project focusing on catering and in the future a café.

Cross Roads Training Ministry - $5,000 for Indigenous Community Leadership Training

This training program involves allowing Indigenous people to develop their skills with an holistic Indigenous Christian Perspective, it helps educate people about community development and culture. The focus is on developing individuals as leaders with skills in community development. The course also uses material from Nungalyina College which it is hoped will provide encouragement for students to take on more formal education.

Centacare Catholic Community Services - $6,235 – Alive and Well Project

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can access the Centacare Alive and Well project. The project aims to empower young people through on-going case work and support. The project focuses on skills development, culture and community development. Centacare provide a range of activities that engage young people in a learning and fun way. This approach builds rapport and trust which helps build upon the young people’s skills individually and within a group setting. It aims to prevent isolation, build friendships, break down barriers, build upon leadership and assist young people to gain a better understanding of their own culture.

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