Connecting with Aboriginal Culture
Our Aboriginal and Islander staff play a key role in increasing our understanding of the barriers that Aboriginal clients can face when accessing our services. Apart from the crucial work of supporting indigenous clients through family dispute resolution and facilitating Aboriginal specific courses to clients and external groups, they also regularly hold training for non-aboriginal staff, sharing insights, beliefs and history of the world’s oldest living culture.
This cultural fitness training helps our staff understand the culture of our clients and community and to be able to reflect on our practices and methods when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.
Aboriginal staff wanted to share with RA-NT the importance of music, art and food for Indigenous Culture. They all have a deeper meaning: helping to heal, connecting with country and supporting your family. RA-NT Darwin staff all travelled to a nearby nature reserve for the opportunity to engage in traditional painting and food preparation and be treated to a yidaki performance from Les (Lipuwurrunga) Huddleston.
Les Huddlesston performed a moving song on the yidaki, he also explained his origins and his experiences playing the didgeridoo. Les is an experienced musician who played at the Commonwealth games and also plays at local cultural ceremonies. He asked staff to listen closely and think about what emotions the music provokes.
Cultural advisor Valerie, led staff on a master class of bush damper. Damper is a traditional bush bread made with native seeds, nuts a nd roots to form a dough that is then cooked over the campfire. Valerie demonstrated how to make damper with conventional flour and explained how it would be made traditionally with the native ingredients, as well. She explained how in her family, food preparation is an important time to connect with family, talk and teach lessons to children. Staff were given the opportunity to prepare and cook their own damper.
Staff were also given the opportunity to present what they experienced on the day through art. Traditional painting methods were used on rocks, creating a unique gift and reminder for staff to take home.
Children’s counsellor, Kelly, explains her artwork:
I’ve always resonated with the sound and vibration of the didgeridoo and find it very grounding and healing. My experience of the sound is that it gently tugs and pulls old, denser energy upwards and out from the physical body which then creates a sense of space within. Through the process of clearing and cleansing old energy, it then allows the listener to go back inward into the newly created space for reflection and contemplation. This creates an experience of grounding into a new vibration, energy and state of being.
This experience of the didgeridoo is the story I painted on my rock. I began with the first colour and started in the middle painting dots in a spiral motion outwards. I then continued the same outward spiral for the next colour. For the final two colours, I spiralled inward with the paint to reach the centre where I felt grounded like the rock.
This unique and special experience was made possible because of the knowledge, skills and experience of our Darwin Aboriginal and Islander Cultural Advisors, George “Burri” Butler, Valerie Tambling and Mona Roberts.