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National Reconciliation Week 2024. 27 May - 3rd June. Now more than ever.

 

It’s National Reconciliation Week! The theme is ‘now more than ever’, which is a reminder that the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people must continue.

In the lead up to NRW the Kensington Reconciliation Action Group in partnership with Kensington Neighbourhood House took this opportunity to learn more about our Traditional Owners, and support a local Wurundjeri organisation; Djirri Djirri, who facilitated a workshop on Wurundjeri Culture for the Kensington community. This was the second workshop we have held with Djirri Djrri. The first being in a Ngarra (dance) workshop in March. Djirri Djirri are the only Wurundjeri female dance group and Traditional Custodians of Narrm (Melbourne) and surrounds. Djirri Djirri means Willy Wagtail in Woi-wurrung, language.  

Djirri Djirri teach leadership skills in song and dance, they run workshops, perform large events and facilitate cultural education to a wide range of groups including schools. Djirri Djirri have won multiple awards and are well known in Melbourne.


We were honoured to have Stacie Piper, a Djirri Djirri dancer, educator and proud Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung and Ngurai Illum-Wurrung woman share her culture and language. She told us her stories and answered our questions on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, liwik (ancestors), kerr-up-non (family) and biik (country), aided by Fenna, her manggip (daughter).


Stacie spoke about her journey to bring back the Wurundjeri practice of making drums. She spoke about the cultural load often placed on Aboriginal people and also the duty she felt to fulfil the role of custodian caring for country.


Stacie was the Chairperson of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee for 5 years from 2018 and is currently the Curator & Collections at the Victorian Indigenous Centre at the State Library Victoria. She recently curated the library’s beruk exhibition (Dec 2023-July 2024) that celebrated the life and legacy of Willian Barak, Ngurungaeta (leader), activist, artist, and diplomat. Stacie is a direct descendant of Barak’s younger sister, Annie Borate.

 

The workshop was possible due to a City of Melbourne Small Neighbourhood Grant and Kensington Neighbourhood House funding.

 

Reflections on the workshop

'Stacie told us that Djirri Djirri are the only Wurundjeri woman's dance group, and only female group who sings in Woiwurrung. She explained that Woiwurrung is a language that they have had to work to bring back, and similarly their dances have had to be pieced together. Why weren’t they known? Because the Wurundjeri people were not only disposed of their land but, Coranderrk was established as a reserve for the Aboriginal people of south-central Victoria and served to disrupt the cultural heritage of tens of thousands of years. What I took away was how hard Victorians like Stacie are working to bring the cultural teachings of the past into the future, and this fills me with hope.'

Rachel

'It was so good to hear about Wurundjeri past, present and future through the personal lens of Stacie’s own family, heritage and experience. It was a new window into First Nations reality and aspirations. I appreciated very much how Stacey was both challenging and encouraging of us, to keep on learning and having a go to build relationship and understanding, even if we make mistakes.'

Justine

'I found the Cultural Education session with Stacie both moving and educational. It was incredibly moving to hear the stories of her female forebears. The idea of the importance of giving a voice to previously unheard voices of aboriginal women resonated strongly with me. Stacie articulated so clearly and sensitively the fact that racism is a white problem to her all-white audience and spoke of the fatigue experienced by herself and all Aboriginal peoples as a result of carrying the burden of always campaigning for justice, battling prejudice and fighting for truth-telling. These ideas are echoed in a book I’ve just finished reading by Reni Eddo-Lodge about racism in Britain, “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”. As KRAG members, we need to heed the call to share the load and continue our work to promote an anti-racist agenda and battle the systemic racism that exists in Australia.' Sarah

 

Resources on Wurundjeri Culture Stacey shared some resources to find out more information about Wurundjeri culture;


First Australians TV series: Has an episode on Corrunderrk; https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/tv-series/first-australians


Map of Traditional Owner boundaries: ACHRIS: https://achris.vic.gov.au/weave/wca.html


Information on Wurundjeri Elders from the Wurundjeri Land Council: https://www.wurundjeri.com.au/our-story/ancestors-past/


There are garden working bee’s at Coranderrk on Sundays: https://www.coranderrk.com/what-s-on


Mandy Nicholson, founder of Djirri Djirri has worked with Clothing the Gaps and developed fantastic educational videos on the Woiwurrung language. See here: https://www.clothingthegaps.com.au/pages/waking-up-woiwurrung-with-mandy-nicholson


Other places to find information include the Melbourne Museum and the State Library catalogues.

 

What’s on this week

The City of Melbourne have a range of events on this week including expert speakers and live music. Check out the activities happening as part of Reconciliation Week here: https://news.melbourne.vic.gov.au/insightful-events-to-deepen-your-understanding-this-national-reconciliation-week/


Likewise, Reconciliation Australia have a calendar of events occurring this week:


John Morrissey – Firelight – 3 June

The Flemington Library is hosting award winning author John Morrissey to discuss colonialism, identity and experiences of First People as written in his debut collection of short stories, Firelight. The Kensington Reconciliation Action Group will be there, holding their July meeting at the library before hand. RSVP here: https://libraryevents.mvcc.vic.gov.au/event?id=57019


Check out this montage of choirs across the country singing Blackfella/Whitefella’ – the popular 1985 song by Warumpi band, as organised by Reconciliation Australia. This song is all about people of all backgrounds coming together and standing up for change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JmPoM0piHE

 

NEXT EVENT NAIDOC Week (7 -14 July) Keep the Fires Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud’.

 

July 9th, 7.00 – 9.00pm. Kensington Town Hall.

We will be talking about the things that have helped build our personal awareness of our First Nations history and present. A session of simple sharing of things that have helped in our own personal learning.


Bring along a story, a song, a reading, a short something that has made you go ‘aha!’ In the appreciation of our First Nations people. Or just come along to hear what others have to share. We’ll have the kettle on.


When RSVPing, for planning purposes, please let us know if you would like to share something. RSVP by emailing kensingtonreconciliation@gmail.com  

Find out more about the Kensington Reconciliation Action Group meet monthly at Kensington Neighbourhood House. Find out more about them here.

 

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