• The new Indigenous studies centre at the University of Divinity (Supplied: The University of Divinity)Source: Supplied: The University of Divinity
First Nations spirituality is being centred in a new theology course at the University of Divinity.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
12 May 2021 - 2:36 PM  UPDATED 12 May 2021 - 2:36 PM

First Nations theology will be central at a new Indigenous studies centre at the University of Divinity.

The Indigenous theology course will be taught by First Nations people. One of those teachers is trawloolway man Garry Deverell.

He told NITV News it's time for the establishment of theology courses based on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

"It's a re-reading of religion from our point of view, like we've been re-reading Australian history and learning new ways of doing business," Dr Deverell said.

"Now we're doing that in churches, re-reading spirituality from an Indigenous perspective."

Dr Deverell will be joined by Naomi Wolfe, a trawloolway woman, in teaching the course, as well as First Nations academics from the US.

Dr Deverell said the course has been developed with the help of First Nations academics from all over the world.

"When you sit down with them, you realise we have a lot in common," he said.

"We have a lot in common in that we were colonised, but we also have a lot in common in terms of spiritual traditions.

"Something that distinguishes First Nations spirituality from other spiritualities is that it begins with the earth - we have a profound sense of belonging to the earth.

"It's very much central to our spirituality and that is a commonality for First Nations people."

The course will be taught at the heritage-listed monastery at the University of Divinity, which is set to undergo an $800,000 refurbishment. 

Dr Deverell said he'd like to see students from all backgrounds attend the courses, and hopes other tertiary institutions include Indigenous theology as part of their offerings.

"When you look at the university landscape, what is really missing is Indigenous theology," he said.

"You can go to university and study Indigenous health, language, lore and law, like land rights, sometimes they touch on our spirituality and its importance but they don't go into depth.

"Our spirituality has remained elusive because it's one of the things most affected by colonisation, but we should be looking at our belief system that sustained us for thousands of years.

"It's a gap in Indigenous studies that we hope to fill."

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