relates to Australia’s peoples who lived on the mainland before colonization.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

the Indigenous peoples of Australia. The official government definition of is “people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, who identify as such and are accepted as such in the community in which they live, or have lived” (Dodson 1994).1


Aboriginal psychologist Judy Atkinson (2002, 21) presents agency as increased awareness of the “deep sounds” of the self. The self gains agency through story-telling (Atkinson 2002, 199), but also solidarity in listening to others (Atkinson 2002, 141). This creates a wholeness from which a person can become an actor.


is the process by which Indigenous people “recover [them] selves, to claim a space in which to develop a sense of authentic humanity” (Smith 1999, Kindle Loc 669). This redresses (continuing) Imperial or colonial influence.

Emotional energy (EE)

is described as …a feeling of confidence, courage to take action, boldness in taking initiative. It is a morally suffused energy; it makes the individual feel not only good, but exalted, with the sense of doing what is most important and most valuable” (Collins 2004, 38).

Indigeneity or Aboriginality

means “Indigenous identity” or “Aboriginal identity.” Victoria Grieves (2008) defines this as shared Indigenous experiences of dispossession of land, political oppression, poverty and exclusion as opposed to white European identity.


The official government definition of “Indigenous” is “people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, who identify as such and are accepted as such in the community in which they live, or have lived” (Dodson 1994).


is a diverse global Christian spirituality with “family resemblances” (Anderson 2013, 5) that emphasizes the participation of all members, the practice of glossolalia (or speaking in tongues) and rites of healing (Bouma 2008).


Randall Collins (2004, 23) defines a ritual in four parts; bodies assemble together, becoming aware of each other, with clear separation between participants and non-participants. As they focus on a shared action, an event is converted into an encounter. During encounter, bodies both successfully synchronize and therefore gain EE, or they do not, which results in an EE loss.

Social engagement

This term is used to bridge the understanding the opposing Christian community activities of evangelism and social justice. In the Aboriginal-led environment such distinctions are not made.

South Sea Islander peoples

relates to Australia’s indentured slaves transported from the South Pacific, also known as “The Black Birders” or “The Kanaks.”

Stolen Generation

This term refers to the children removed from families under various state protectionist policies. Many were removed to the missions, as well as into orphanages and foster families.


A group associates a change in EE with symbols that meaningfully express their experience. Collins notes these are usually something ritual participants are focused on during an experience of high solidarity, e.g. celebrities, objects, and buzzwords.

The Dreaming

The shared religiosity of Australia’s diverse Aboriginal peoples is called “The Dreaming,” referring to a particular spirituality of geography, maintained through ritual ceremony (Graham 2008; Rose 1992, 89). It is often referred to as spirituality, rather than a religion.

Torres Strait Islander peoples

Australia’s Indigenous peoples who lived in the Torres Strait Islands before colonization.


this study examines key metropolitan areas categorized as “urban” by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with Perth (1.6 million), The Gold Coast (500,000) and Cairns (170,000) residents.2 All are regional metropolitan areas with significant services, and centres for industries such as tourism.


As some groups find the word “Indigenous” offensive, I have chosen to use the recommended academic terminology, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander,” although this may fail to adequately represent South Sea Islander peoples and their history.


It is recognised that such populations may not be considered “urban” in other nations, particularly readers from other regions of the world, where “urban” evokes specific government policies.