Aboriginal Ministry South Australia


Aboriginal Ministry South Australia (AbMinSA) is the committee charged with the responsibility of managing Aboriginal mission in South Australia. It is involved with Aboriginal people in both rural and urban communities.

Our mission statement is: To promote and expand ministry among Aboriginal people that they may know of and grow in the love of Jesus.

Our activities

Our mission activities are conducted on the Far West Coast communities of Yalata, Oak Valley, Koonibba, the regional centres of Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Port Augusta and in Adelaide. See a map of ministry areas.

From our earliest history to the present day God has blessed us by providing faithful and committed workers in each of these ministry areas.

On the Far West Coast Pastor Russell Bryant (pictured above with confirmees at Yalata) serves Yalata and Oak Valley, with local assistance and half-time lay worker support from Malcolm Wilcocks. The balance of Malcolm's time is devoted to ministry to the Aboriginal people in Ceduna, Koonibba and the homelands with the support of Pastor Russell and retired Pastor Keith Peters.

At Port Lincoln lay worker Mark Thiel ministers to the Aboriginal community through prison and hospital visiting, youth and church groups, confirmation classes and chaplaincy in the Lutheran school. He also teaches and mentors an Aboriginal lay person undertaking theological studies.

At Whyalla the resident pastor serves the Aboriginal community on a needs basis.

At Port Augusta AbMinSA strives to maintain contact with and minister to Aboriginal people in the community, aged care facility, hospital and town camp.

In Adelaide, the Ferryden Park congregation continues to minister to Aboriginal people. In addition, in order to cater for the changing demography of urban Aborigines and their diverse cultural backgrounds, AbMinSA has placed Pastor Edmund Bilney to work without boundaries across the Greater Adelaide Metropolitan Area (GAMA) to locate and re-establish contact with the people spread widely across suburban Adelaide.

Our history

The Lutheran Church was involved in Aboriginal ministry from the very earliest days of the colony. Missionaries Schurmann and Teichelmann from the Dresden Mission Society commenced work in 1838, just two years after the establishment of the colony in 1836. They worked among the Kaurna people of the Adelaide area on the banks of the River Torrens. They established the first school for Aboriginal children using the Kaurna language. Later, in 1840 Missionaries Meyer and Klose expanded work to Encounter Bay and Port Lincoln. In the early 1900s Lutheran mission work expanded still further to the far west coast of South Australia.

During the early 1950s different groups of Aboriginal people in the far north-west of South Australia were dispossessed of their traditional lands to allow the British Government in order to establish a nuclear weapons testing site at Maralinga. The people were moved south of the east-west railway line, and the Lutheran Church was requested by the government of the day to establish a mission closer to the sea. This settlement became known as Yalata. The Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) relinquished control of Yalata in 1975 but has maintained a presence in order to communicate the gospel.

In the mid 1980s some family groups moved back to their traditional homelands and a settlement was established 130 kilometres north-west of Maralinga. This settlement became know as Oak Valley.

Port Augusta is situated at the top of Spencer Gulf and has a population of well over 2000 Aboriginal people. Many Aboriginal people from isolated settlements from the north and west who come to Port Augusta for medical treatment stay with relatives. So service to Aboriginal people is a large part of the ministry of the Lutheran Church in Port Augusta.

This work provides the foundation for AbMinSA’s continuing ministry in Yalata, Oak Valley, Ceduna, Koonibba, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Adelaide today.

Support us

  • Learn more about AbMinSA's work by coming on a Fish n Mission Trip, where you'll enjoy a relaxing holiday at some beautiful places on the Far West Coast, as well as visit our ministry areas and meet the people in the communities we serve. Departure date for our next trip is 4 September 2012. Keep a lookout here for the itinerary, which should be available on this page very soon.
  • If you would like to contribute financially to the extension of AbMinSA's ministry, please click on the donation box and follow the prompts.

Contact us

Aboriginal Ministry South Australia
Malcolm Willcocks (board chair)
Phone 0438 847 746
Email mal.willcocks@gmail.com