Butchulla youth embrace heritage
MARYBOROUGH ghundus dancers are preparing themselves for the trip of a lifetime.
In late June a group of parents decided to involve their children in keeping their culture alive by teaching them the Butchulla Welcome and Farewell song to perform at Fraser Coast events.
Since then the eight ghundus (Aboriginal meaning for children) have danced the Welcome and Farewell Songs for Uniting Care Community, the Maryborough Music Conference, Naidoc Week flag raising at the Town Hall, and the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Children's Day at Ululah Lagoon.
Parent to two of the dancers, Susan Tobane said even though she initiated the idea it was a group effort.
"Every time we were having to do a Welcoming to Country performance we would have to source from the Bay,” she said.
"So we thought some kids around here know the welcome song.
"Lets get involved in our culture more - run with it and do it for the love of it.”
It snowballed quickly from there.
Police liaison officer of the Maryborough Patrol Unit Paul Shillingsworth, better known as Goomblar, initiated an overseas trip.
"He saw the kids really grabbing and embracing their heritage and told us of an opportunity to travel to New Zealand for a cultural exchange,” Susan said.
"Even though this is a cultural immersion project, we all view it as an opportunity for individual empowerment and strengthening families.
"Incorporating linkages between community services and this project of connection to culture is a holistic approach that is leading towards positive social change and self-empowerment.
"We are a motley crew with various skills. sharing those skills sets is leading to parents being more involved in the community.
"In the last month parents have shown real dedication and this trip gives them more incentives and to push their own personal goals.
"I think the parents are ready for a challenge and they have shown that by just turning up.
"They are being proactive.
"The group were seeking corporate sponsorship and will be hitting the pavement and seeking community support and tackling business.
They need to raise about $16,000-$20,000 before the trip in February 2018.
Susan said they were also seeking help for assistance with applications for passports and visas.
"It's a new ballgame for us - any help would be welcomed,” she said.
If anybody is willing to make donations there will be plenty of fundraisers up until that date with a Go Fund Me page, sausage sizzles, a dinner and entertainment with host Indigenous comedian Sean Choolburra.
Also another performance during Childrens Week event.
They also plan to start a Facebook page showing their journey.
Susan said they would be endorsed under the Moonaboola Corporation umbrella.
"We really would like to see this work - we want to be pioneers for positive change in our indigenous community,” she said.
"The worldly experience the kids will get will be immense - a positive experience - open their eyes.
"We will do a cultural exchange - the world is a classroom, broaden their experiences.
"This can open the doors for other families - a sustainable project for the future.”
Dance instructor, parent and member of the Moonaboola Community development program Peter Skuthorpe said their organisation will auspice the trip.
"I am teaching them the Brolga Yulogi and Thinawan Yulogi which are the Brolga and Emu dances.
"The brolga dance is the dance showing the initiation and journey of a young boy through to manhood and the emu dance pays homage to the matriarchal line - mothers, aunties, grandmothers, sisters.
Eight dancers, three carers and cultural advisor and Goomblar will take the trip to New Zealand.
The dance troupe ranges from eight years to fourteen.
The kids were all looking forward to travelling.
Eleven-year-old Mietta Mason has been dancing the welcome and farewell dances pretty much all her life and learnt them from her mum.
Ally McKinley, 14, said was hoping to gain more confidence.
"We don't want our generation or culture to fade away.”
WANT TO KNOW MORE
Email any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or Goomblar at shillingsworth. email@example.com or phone 0411 177 857.