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D17 KIAP Launch - a unique event
As part of the state wide launch of the CFA Koori Inclusion Action Plan, a Cultural Awareness day took place for all of the District 17 Staff in Horsham on Thursday 28th March 2015.
The D17 Headquarters Office was transformed with posters and maps showing Registered Aboriginal Party boundaries, traditional language and clan boundaries and the local Traditional Owners land settlement boundaries.
Local Elder Jennifer Beer did a Welcome to Country and then the staff linked into the live launch of the Action Plan. Following this Aaron (Rooney) Grambeau, the local cultural heritage expert and a member of the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, led the staff through his personal journey as a Koori man. This was an emotional and honest session as he touched on the impact of the Stolen Generation, the issues he has faced as a Koori man in a white man’s world and finally what issues the Koori Community are facing today within the Wimmera.
This was followed by a session involving the creation story of the Grampians and Wimmera, the connection between the 5 local Tribes who come together under the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and some local history about the Ebenezer Mission and other Koori settlements. This also incorporated information about cultural heritage and the protection of significant sites.
In the afternoon, Aaron took the staff out on Country to see a scarred tree along the river and explain how the scar was made. It is very important for CFA members to learn about cultural heritage and what we can do to better protect these sites. There are not many scarred trees left and it is becoming increasingly important to protect what remain. He then led the group a little further up the river to explain how Boomerangs were made and used and other information about traditional hunting methods and tribal customs.
Back in the ‘classroom’ there was some good conversation with Tony Brady, Vegetation Management Officer, West Region, with input from Aaron, leading a discussion about traditional burning. There is a strong feeling that CFA needs to be learning more about traditional burning practices.
Jenny McGennisken, Community Education Coordinator West Region, said “it was a very interesting day for all of the D17 Staff who learnt a lot and can now see the benefits for CFA learning more about Aboriginal culture and cultural heritage”. Aaron Grambeau, the local cultural heritage expert agreed that “these cultural exchange sessions are very important to learn from each other and to help shift community perceptions”.
This was the second Koori Awareness Day that has been held in District 17. A Koori Cultural Awareness Day was held for CFA volunteers earlier in the year, with another one planned for the Dimboola Fire Brigade later in the year.
CFA would like to thank the Barengi Gadjin Land Council for working with CFA D17 Staff to make this day possible.
Photos by Ian Day, CFA D17 Ops Officer