Centacare’s John Lochowiak will lead the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) for the next three years.

Manager of Aboriginal Services and head of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Adelaide, John was appointed NATSICC chairperson at a council meeting in Darwin last month.

He said his priority was to raise Aboriginal cultural awareness and unity in the Catholic Church, improve social and sporting opportunities for youth, and tackle community issues, such as domestic violence and use of the drug ice.

“We take the responsibility of representing the youngest and fastest growing demographic in the Catholic Church in Australia very seriously,” John said.

A Wati (initiated Man), John has strong ties to many language groups throughout Australia, including the Pitjantjatjara, Kaurna, Ramindjeri and Arrernte.

He said his NATSICC appointment would continue to build on a strong family tradition of helping others.

The father-of-five was born in Coober Pedy to a Polish father and Aboriginal mother, Mabel Walker, who was chairperson of the Umoona Community Council for 30 years. John’s great-grandfather, Aboriginal soldier and ANZAC Arthur Walker, landed at Gallipoli in 1915.

John said family ties and being part of four generations of Walkers involved in the Otherway Centre which he now manages, inspired him to help others.

“Supporting the community and making society a better place by working together and building friendships and partnerships has always been important to me,” he said.

NATSICC is the peak advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.