On Friday the 25th of November, 2016 23 young people set off to the Blue Light Youth Camp in Maldon.
Auntie Julie McHALE and Auntie Katherine from NALDERUN out of Castlemaine and District Health
Services as well as Auntie Kerri from Goldfields did a tremendous job organising the kids
attendance. The camp was targeted at young people who identified as Indigenous.
Maryborough Rotary Club very kindly offered Shane to run a LIFT program on Saturday morning for
the kids which was really good to see. The kids all took turns in public speaking and working in teams to
solve puzzles. They were very challenged and had a look of fun!
One of the objectives of this camp was to pass on some indigenous culture to the kids in a fun and engaging
way. People would be very surprised at how often we find young indigenous people who don’t know very much about their culture, we also find that whenever we run these sessions they love it.
Auntie Julie had 3 teachings for the kids to listen to and had them enthralled. Her and Auntie Kerri also performed a welcoming and smoking ceremony. Auntie Kerri taught the kids about aboriginal art.
ABORIGINAL WELCOME TO COUNTRY AND SMOKING CEREMONY
- The traditional practices of acknowledging the Traditional Custodians and seeking permission to enter or use resources from the land and sea have always been in place in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies, this practice is only starting to emerge as a growing convention in modern Australian society. Welcome to Country gives custodians the opportunity to formally welcome people to their land. The Welcome to Country ceremony should, where possible, be undertaken by Elders, by a locally recognised Aboriginal community spokesperson.
- A smoking ceremony is one of the most significant ancient ceremonies performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The ceremony involves smoldering various native plants to produce smoke which are believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits.
Before going for dinner the kids had the choice between going for a walk to find the black wattle to make clapping sticks or doing an art session where they got to paint their own boomerang.
Auntie Kath taught the kids and adults about indigenous plants used for cooking and sang an indigenous song prior to everyone making damper and cooking it in an open fire.
They all took part in archery, mini golf, rock wall climbing, air hockey, mini golf, footy and nerf gun wars. It was a tremendous success.
They all presented Leading Senior Constable Denis with a painting that each child had placed a hand print on with the words BLAST 2016. He was very moved by it.
WHAT DO THE KIDS SAY?
“Great to meet other Koorie kids”
“I thought the Jacks were just there to catch you doing something wrong, now I know they are really there to help us”
“I liked the way the Teachings are linked to geology and proving how long the mob have been here”
Speaking to one of the children after the camp she was asked what were some of the highlights of the camp and what was something that she took away from the camp.
Her response is as follows –
The camp gave me an opportunity to listen to the teachings of Aboriginal Culture. As Aunty Julie was telling us the teachings I could visualise what was happening. It was the first time that I had heard the teachings.
It was great to meet lots of kids from around the area that are the same as me. I met them and became friends with them over the couple of days.
One of the best parts was taking part in the bubble soccer and the Nerf battle.
I can’t wait to go on camp again!
This young girl has come from a family that knew they were Aboriginal but no-one took them seriously. It has taken many years for the family to be accepted as Aboriginal and the family are glad that the children are being involved in the cultural aspect of their lives.
The camp was a brilliant chance for the children who are in similar situations to get to know each other, Aunts in their community and the police in a nonthreatening way who can become mentors for the students.