Heal country – NAIDOC Week 2021 

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls on all of us to continue to seek greater protection for land, water, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. 

Earlier this year, Traditional Owner Corporations the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BLCAC) spent time teaching Landcare group members about Cultural Heritage. 

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s (WGCMA) Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Officer, Mandy Leggett, said the sessions were organised to help Landcarers gain a better understanding of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and understand the process to go through if Cultural Heritage sites are identified at Landcare projects.    

“The Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (BLCAC) representatives Uncle Mick Edwards, Eric Edwards and Bradley Ward met with Landcare members at the Powlett River to learn about their Corporation and Cultural Heritage in the landscape,” said Mandy.  

“Uncle Mick spoke about the difference in cultures, and that the fact that members of the oldest culture in the world are constantly operating within the parameters of European culture.”  

Uncle Mick explained some of these and the trauma they have caused and encouraged the Landcarers to be aware and considerate of this trauma. He said, “we all have the same colour blood” and should be “walking together”.  

Bradley taught the group about protecting recognising heritage sites. Learning about the very rare greenstone axe, revered, and traded across the country, was a highlight for the group. 

Mandy explained that these sessions were part of a series of workshops. 

“So far this year, we’ve had more than 80 Landcare members from across Gippsland attend cultural heritage sessions,” said Mandy. 

“GLaWAC staff Grattan Mullett Snr, Uncle Nicky Moffatt, Uncle Lloyd Hood, Bryce Baxter and Harley Wanganeen hosted two sessions at The Knob Reserve Stratford,” said Mandy. 

Grattan Mullett, Cultural Hub Manager at GLaWAC, reflected that to Traditional Owners Connection to Country is a priority and that that it’s important we work together. 

Grattan spoke about the importance of cultural sites to the Gunaikurnai both tangible sites in the landscape and intangible sites where important events both good and bad have occurred. He also highlighted the importance of young people re-establishing their connection to Country.  

“Landcare members across the region have shown a strong desire to link to common goals of caring for country with Traditional Owners as well as developing relationships together,” continued Mandy. 

“Elder and leader of the GLaWAC Cultural Water Team, Uncle Lloyd Hood shared some of his life story with the group, many people had not realised or heard directly the difficulties faced by Aboriginal people on the missions in Victoria. 

“This was a powerful story from Uncle Lloyd and learning for participants.” 

Uncle Nicky Moffat Cultural Heritage Officer and musician talked about recognising heritage in the landscape, he also shared some of his moving story of re connecting with family across Country. 

“Landcarers have had an insight into people’s history, where they are at now and their aspirations for the future,” said Mandy. “It has put them on the road to better understanding each other and working together”.  

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July. Each year NAIDOC Week grows in stature and depth of celebrations at community, state and national level. NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the oldest continuing cultures on the planet. 

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Indigenous Participation Project and Landcare project is funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Victorian Government’s Landcare Program. 

 

 

NAIDOC Week - Heal Country