The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program works in Australia alongside partners in the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) and Lutheran Community Care (LCC). Lutherans have been in Australia for over 150 years, since small groups emigrated from Germany in the 1830s and arrived in South Australia and Queensland. Lutheran Community Care provides community services to vulnerable populations in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Missions has also been important part of the LCA, especially in the preservation of languages of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. There is great diversity among Aboriginal communities in Australia, each with unique languages (at one point there were at least 145 different Aboriginal languages), histories, cultures, and customs. Since British colonization in the late 1700s, much of this cultural heritage has been lost to forced relocation, disease, Government assimilation policy, and the appropriation of land and water. In the last few decades, the Australian government has sought to amend the constitution, remove racially oppressive legislature, and allocate significant resources to remaining Aboriginal communities.
As volunteers in Australia, young adults will learn to draw parallels between issues of wealth disparity, immigration, and racial privilege, present in both Australia and the United States. Volunteers who serve in Australia may wrestle with how to be a person of faith in a highly secularized society. They may also encounter the assumption that being a missionary means only serving in non-Western international contexts; YAGM volunteers in Australia will continue the programmatic commitment to re-thinking how we understand mission and service. Volunteers will also serve in a church where women are not ordained and the ordination of women remains a contentious issue within the LCA.
YAGM volunteers are placed throughout Australia and in some cases may be in different geographic areas.
Examples of service opportunities include:
Language: Most Australia YAGM volunteers will speak English while in service, though in one context that focuses on engaging and supporting refugees, it will be beneficial for the volunteer to learn Swahili. In some contexts there may also be opportunities to learn an Aboriginal language.