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Koori Cultural Awareness Session
An eye-opening cultural awareness session was held last month following the launch of CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan.
As part of CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan (2014-2019) Koori cultural awareness sessions are available for CFA members. Framlingham was an Aboriginal reserve established by the Board for the Protection of Aborigines in 1861 and is located beside the Hopkins River in the territory of the Girai wurrung near the boundary with the Gunditjmara, not too far from Warrnambool on the south-west coast of the state. Consequently, the program was offered to Brigades from the area.
Jamie Lowe, an experienced trainer and facilitator in cultural awareness training, presented the session at Purnim for members of the Purnim, Warrnambool, Allansford, Framlingham, Koroit, Nullawarre, Panmure, Port Fairy and Wangoom Brigades. Some of these people had grown up with members of the local Aboriginal community and thought they knew them well, but the session presented a number of stories that surprised even them.
One of the exercises Jamie had members do was write their favourite things on a piece of paper. The silence in the room was absolute when Jamie slowly tore these up, explaining that none of those things mattered and were all unimportant. This demonstrated perfectly the way Aboriginal customs and beliefs were treated by white people when they arrived in Australia.
The aim of the program is to increase participant’s knowledge and awareness of Aboriginal culture and history both locally and nationally. This objective was achieved as a member who attended the session said, ‘the session showed us that there are a lot of aspects of Aboriginal history that we are very ignorant of.’
The program included a history of Australia, as well local history, and the treatment of the indigenous population. There was no blame or recrimination in Jamie’s presentation, just a statement of fact that has been accepted as part of Australian history.
This was ‘delivered with humour, personal stories and knowledge’ as one member commented.
The second part of the program was a visit to significant sites in the Framlingham Forest. While on site, more stories were told by local community Elder, Rob Lowe. These local stories from a respected elder were shocking and challenging. Members of the same vintage were unaware of the treatment of Koories while they were growing up.
While at the bridge that borders the forest, Rob told the story of the headless man who lived under the bridge and scared boys who arrived home late, indicating all mothers use similar tactics to get their children home early!
The program had considerable depth with detailed information and each participant benefited from the experience.
CFA would like to thank the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation for their support of this program.