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Koori Cultural Exchange Session in Horsham
As part of CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan, a cultural awareness session took place in Horsham on Saturday 21st of March 2015. Coincidently this fell on the same day as the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Horsham Fire Station 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 also explained some of the local history and her own background. She was also able to clarify the boundaries of the local Traditional Owners who come together under the Barengi Gadjin Land Council that represent five local tribes.
The full-day session took participants through a structured program about traditional Aboriginal culture and history, colonisation and past government policies, facilitated by Shane Charles, a Yorta Yorta man and experienced trainer. This was followed by a session about cultural heritage and protection of significant sites and then traditional burning and traditional land management. CFA Brigade member Charmaine Sellings from the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust helped to co-facilitate the session and share her stories of cultural heritage and site protection.
Aaron Grambeau, the local cultural heritage expert took the group 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.
Back in the ‘classroom’ the section on traditional burning got some good conversations going and there is a strong feeling that CFA needs to be learning more about traditional burning practices.
Jenny McGennisken, CFA Community Education Coordinator said “it was very interesting, I learnt a lot and can see the benefits for CFA learning more about Aboriginal culture and cultural heritage”. Elder Jennifer Beer agreed “these cultural exchange sessions are very important to learn from each other and to help shift community perceptions”.
CFA would like to thank the Barengi Gadjin Land Council for working with CFA to make this session possible.