Welcome to Winter!
With your generous support we’ve been able to launch our wonderful Small Grants Program for 2023 and continue our partnership programs in Tasmania and Queensland. Tani Langoulant has made great progress in establishing long term structures that enable the Free2b Time program to provide one-on-one support for teenage girls in St Helens and St Marys. Todd Dudley and his team at North Eastern Bioregional Network have also been working hard through the colder weather to restore the land in the Break O’Day region of north-east Tasmania. The following images show the outcome of some of their work, before and after images that demonstrate the removal of weed pines and the remaining natural growth. Look at their height!
I’m excited to share that Megan Brown who runs our Seeds of Connection program in Roma, Queensland, will now be an employee of Highways and Byways. At such an important moment in time with the upcoming Referendum on the Voice to Parliament, it’s wonderful to have such a strong and talented Mithaka and Gunggari woman join our team!
Earlier in the year, Megan developed a Healing and Belonging Through Culture camp for Indigenous women, and welcomed 36 women to participate at the Yumba in Mitchell, Queensland. Yumba is the Gunggari word for camp, and this land is very special to those with ties to the Gunggari, Bidgara, Kooma, Kamilaroi and Mandandanji peoples who lived there harmoniously until they were forcibly removed in 1968.
Women travelled from across southern Queensland to the Yumba, to reconnect to Country. For many, this was the first time they met other women who have ties to this land. Megan reflected how incredible it was to see these women develop genuine, meaningful relationships over such a short period of time. They expressed deep gratitude to Megan’s leadership and capacity to hold space so beautifully for them, as they vulnerably shared their personal stories of cultural and social disconnection. Coming together for a weekend of cultural activities such as weaving provides context for this kind of community gathering, where a sense of belonging deepens cultural identity and offers tangible experiences of healing. Mary MacKillop Today very generously funded this program, and the Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation of Health provided staff, transport and accommodation to enable seven women to make the long journey from Cunnamulla to the Yumba.
At the end of June, Megan also ran the Healing and Belonging Through Culture camp for Indigenous youth out on Gungarri country at Mt Moffat. Everyone who came had personal ties to Gungarri country, and spending the time together strengthened their connection to Gungarri land and each other. Megan said the cultural confidence gained from the camp was incredible as evidenced by the commitment of the children and teenagers to the cultural activities offered during the camp; weaving, traditional body painting and dance, preparing the fire, language and story. Some of the children sent Megan photos of them teaching their younger siblings how to weave when they returned home!
Megan was struck by how much pride the teenagers, in particular, took in their cultural identity – sharing the choices they are now making back at home, knowing they are connected to Gungarri mentors. Seeing them take the initiative to teach the younger children on the camp how to create a smoking fire for ceremony was really incredible. This work is so important not only for the wellbeing of those involved, but for having Indigenous young people grow up knowing their connection to land, and understanding their role in looking after themselves, the land and their culture. We thank Mary MacKillop Today for their support in funding this program, and look forward to sharing news of the women’s cultural camps Megan is planning in the coming months.
A short video of the children demonstrating their newly acquired dance and performance skills is following.
We have a lot happening in the next few months and hope you will be able to join us in supporting our Yarck to Yea Walk/Ride/Run on Saturday, 19 August, the Hobart John Wallis Memorial Lecture on Saturday, 21 October with Dr. Jake Mudge and the Toowoomba Lecture with Rev. Tim Costello on Saturday, 28 October. We hope to share a video recording of both the Hobart lecture and the Toowoomba lecture here our website after the events.
IMAGES: Main: Participants of the Healing and Belonging Through Culture camp at the Yumba
Top: Before and after of the removal of pine weeds by North East Bioregional Network in Tasmania.
Middle: Weaving at the Healing and Belonging Through Culture camp at the Yumba
Bottom video: Children and teens demonstrate their newly acquired dance and performance skills at the Healing and Belonging through Culture camp at Mt Moffat.