By Jane Tewson
Here I am in the garden where I grew up in the UK. My bare feet enjoying the grass where once I lay as a baby underneath the walnut tree beside a duck pond hearing the children come out of the local school which still remains the hub of this little village. I start reflecting …
The house I was born in was built in the 16/17th century and is older than the first white settler in Australia. Our home was set in a village community in which we tended to all muck in together. The whole family was important to the running of the house especially with both Mum and Dad working as local doctors. The vegetable garden not only needed to be tended but picked, the wood needed to be cut so we kept warm.
In thinking about this I also reflect on a recent trip to the Northern Territory with Rachel and Tessa English, Ros and Joanna Rogers and Tracey Cooper, hosted by Jane Vadiveloo and the local Bininj (Aboriginal) people of Children’s Ground. Our hosts so generous with culture and place, with integrity, dignity and vision. I was reminded how much we have to learn. I experienced a tiny bit of what I had in my childhood, that rich culture in a diverse group of people that reinforced to me how important it is not to lose that, no matter what it takes.
Children’s Ground is an organisation that Igniting Change has been working with for some time and last month I was lucky enough to make a trip out to Jabiru, to see first-hand the work they are doing. Children’s Grounds dream is: To support generations of people to be strong both ways; strong in the oldest living culture in the world, and fully engaged in the Western world.
Children’s Ground works together with the the Gundjeihmu Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) which is the representative body of the Mirarr people of the area and leading incredible social and economic change. The GAC work on the complex challenges of protecting land, promoting local Aboriginal rights and investing in future advancement. These rights and advancements were perfectly depicted through the four quadrants for their sustainable business; corporate, culture, commerce and country; Each equally important to the future of all Aboriginal people. They commit funds that support not only their own clan but all clans in the region and Children’s Ground is a key investment in this future.
To say we were concerned that we would be seen as a group of outsiders coming in to gawk would be an understatement, but that was so far from the truth. What we experienced was an amazingly kind and generous community of people. Being welcomed to an evening BBQ and session of traditional dancing and then joining the local women to dance with them.
What I experienced personally was the innate ability for children to break down barriers. Parents out in Jabiru just want for their children what anyone would. For their kids (and for us that week) a Tuesday lunch was plucking and eating magpie goose fresh off a fire, and at its’ core was having healthy, culturally and contextually appropriate learning and fun for kids, just as we would do, goose or not. What I experienced was an amazingly rich culture in such a diverse group of people that reinforced in me how important it is not to lose that, not matter what it takes.
Throughout those three days I felt many things: overwhelmed, inspired, nervous, grateful… But what stayed with me and what I continue to feel is optimistic. Optimistic that good things are happening in our country and that with Children’s Ground in Jabiru more good things are yet to come.
Moving forward I hope Igniting Change and our friends will further support the work Children’s Ground is doing with creative and cultural arts including developing artistic enterprises using old and new ways.