26 Feb 2021

Connecting to culture through the Gudjuda Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers

Youth support
Our Youth CONNECT team and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Townsville experienced a Gudjuda Indigenous cultural tour to promote a connection to their culture.

Gudjuda Rangers Uncle Eddie Smallwood, Uncle Russell Butler, Uncle Alfred Smallwood and Uncle Murray warmly welcomed the group and commenced the day with a Welcome to Country. They shared their knowledge and history through experiences in fire making, smoking ceremony, bush tucker, bush medicine, spear throwing, storytelling, boomerang throwing and rock art. This was a unique and greatly appreciated experience as the Rangers don’t normally do tours.

Support Worker Tonya Lake, assisted in organising this event and was fortunate enough to be able to attend. Tonya said the Support Workers and young people had so many memorable experiences.
“Learning how the Indigenous know how to control a fire, use bark as medicine and make fish hooks were all amazing experiences,” Tonya said.

A truly memorable moment of the tour was when a couple of young people weren’t aware of a prior connection they had with their mob or country, however when they introduced themselves, the Elders were able to make a connection to their family for them by identifying their last name. This experience was pivotal for these young people to make a familial connection.

Young people stay connected to culture through their community and a strong cultural identity helps them to become resilient adults. Supporting culture and connection is a responsibility we all share. Culture plays a key role in development, identity and self-esteem, and contributes to the overall wellbeing of a child or young person, particularly when they are experiencing vulnerabilities. These connections help them to understand where they have come from and to develop their sense of belonging.

Our Youth CONNECT Townsville service currently has 63 per cent of its young people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander.

This finding led to searching for an opportunity to help connect the young people with their culture.
“We learnt so much about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders approach storytelling and the Elders
had everyone in fits of laughter with their jokes.” Tonya said.

Further opportunities arose from this event for young people to enhance their cultural connections within the local community. A young person committed to attend a weekly Men’s Business circle with Uncle Alfred and another client learned about a local Women’s Business circle which she has committed to attending weekly.
At Churches of Christ in Queensland, we have a genuine commitment to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in statutory care. We are guided by our Reconciliation Action Plan in our journey to reconciliation and to being more culturally inclusive. Cultural Connection Plans and dedicated cultural practice leaders also help foster and enhance the young people's knowledge, connection and experiences.