Heal Country!

YSS Celebrates NAIDOC Week…

NAIDOC Dance at YSS Whole School Parade (photo supplied by YSS)

“Heal Country!” is the cry sent out by NAIDOC for 2021. They asked the nation “to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage.” Yarrabilba State School celebrated NAIDOC week by doing exactly that.

The week began with the opening of the school’s new Yarning Circle. This connects the school community to an ancient and effective way of communicating. It encourages respectful, honest discussion in a circle where every person is equal, and each has a right to speak and be heard. The school will use the Yarning Circle as a teaching space as well as for community yarns. The Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country by
Mununjali Elders cleansed the area and demonstrated to the children the respect due to elders who pass on cultural knowledge.

NAIDOC artwork at YSS School

Members of the Mununjali community and the Mununjali PaCE program were there all week to teach local history, art, and dance to the jarjums, which in Yugambeh language means “children”. Mununjali Elders and community support and guide the school throughout the year on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The people from Gunya Meta led traditional games and taught animal movements. Gunya Meta is a Woodridge based group that visits the school regularly to teach First Nations’ children about their own culture. They help children feel proud of where they come from. This fulfils the NAIDOC cry of “Heal Country!”, all year long.

NAIDOC artwork by students at YSS School

The student artwork on display was all based on the NAIDOC theme. It included bush art creations of rocks, berries, flowers and nuts. One striking artwork was the “I Am Sorry” poster, and others explaining the history of Aboriginal and European interactions. These acknowledged the injustices done to First Nations’ people, which is also part of healing Country.

The week ended with dances by the First Nations’ children. The final dance they performed was a dance from Torres Strait Islands about going down to the reef and having a good time. The importance of passing on cultural knowledge to the next generation has been highly valued by First Nations’ peoples for many thousands of years. NAIDOC week urged all Australians
to value that as part of our national heritage. Yarrabilba State School is one of the schools leading the way in teaching our young people to embrace and value that knowledge.

By Susan Alexander (Team Reporter)