On Sunday 15th July the Two Fires Festival hosted a gathering at the Dhurga Rock in Ryrie Park to acknowledge the end of NAIDOC Week, and to explore its theme “Because of Her, We Can”.
It was a chilly but sunny Sunday, and some fifteen people from Braidwood and beyond shared a variety of stories of indigenous women who impacted their lives in significant ways. Everyone was welcome, including Councillor Peter Marshall and Senior Constable Hayden Govers, both of whom who made the trip here from Captains Flat.
The inspirational stories shared included the following:
Janene acknowledged renowned Murri elder Maureen Watson of Birri Gubba decent, whom she knew in the 1980’s of Radio Redfern in Sydney. Maureen was a writer, poet and all round great communicator, who realised the power of community radio and worked tirelessly to capture some of those airwaves to ensure the voices – in music, story and activism – of First Nations people were included. Because of her efforts Aboriginal people could tell their own stories and hear their songs on the radio, and simply by listening, the rest of us got an education in Aboriginal community, culture, history and politics that no amount of money could buy. Janene concluded her story with a marvellous poem by Maureen “The Female of the Species”.
Julia acknowledged Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng, a Wakka Wakka Wulli Wulli traditional owner, who generously shares her knowledge and wisdom with many other women, and whose spiritual guidance informs Julia’s life every day. Tjanara was present at the unveiling of the Dhurga Rock in Braidwood in 2015, and sang powerfully at that event.
Barbara acknowledged two indigenous women who influenced her life profoundly through their work at Wollongong University. One of these women, Aunty Barbara Nicholson was awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2014 as a leader, a teacher, a poet, an advocate and an inspirational role model – a woman whose thirst for knowledge and learning, and deep commitment to justice, spurred her to great accomplishment. Born on the Aboriginal reserve at Kemblawarra, Aunty Barbara was fortunate to have a mother who, denied the opportunity to pursue higher learning herself, rose above great personal adversity to instil in her daughter the importance of education.
Maria acknowledged the experience of all the indigenous mothers whose children have been taken from them, and asked that we hold them in our thoughts.
Peter told of an unforgettable experience he had within weeks of arriving in Australia from Ireland, some 20 years ago, where he started work in the Justice Department in WA. In a WA town he experienced respect and consideration from an unknown Aboriginal woman and her daughter, which was in stark contrast to what he was being told about the behaviour of Aboriginal people at the time.
Hayden told of recently watching 2 Australian movies made by indigenous people, and being impressed with the strength of the female characters despite the focus being more on the male leading roles.
Special mention was made of the finding of Mungo Lady exactly 50 years ago, by Dr Jim Bowler of the ANU. This finding significantly changed our understanding of how long people have lived on this land. And although Mungo Man is better known that Mungo Lady, she was found first, and perhaps “Because of Her…”
For for access to Indigenous voices directly, then I’d go for https://indigenousx.com.au/
Julia Green and Janene Collins
16th July 2018