More than one third of our 73 Community Drug Action Teams are led by Aboriginal organisations or communities. NAIDOC Week, held each year, celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In honour of this week we’re putting the spotlight on just a few of the many amazing projects happening across NSW in Aboriginal communities.
In the early 1900’s, pregnant Gumbaynnggirr women from the Bowraville community would travel on foot 40km across the mountains to give birth at the Bellingen Hospital, as other hospitals in the district refused to deliver Aboriginal babies.
To celebrate and acknowledge the resilience and strength of these women, there will be a re-enactment of this journey during NAIDOC Week. Gumbaynggirr women and girls from the Bowraville community will travel from Bowraville to the Bellingen Hospital, following the birthing trail which is now an unsealed forestry road.
Along the way, the women will rest, have lunch and participate in yarning circles where Elders will share their stories and experiences of the original walks. The activity has been planned with COVID safety in mind. A number of people will be travelling in buses and with social distancing in place.
The project is a collaboration between the Bowraville CDAT, Mimi Aboriginal Corporation and the JannymiliBawrrungga program. The CDAT wanted to organise a significant cultural activity to reduce and mitigate the impact of the catastrophic bushfires earlier in the year, COVID and intergenerational trauma.
The walk is also an opportunity to facilitate discussion on healthy pregnancy and impact of alcohol, which can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
Bega Valley CDAT
Bega Valley CDAT has been busy and has two major projects on the go.
Bournda Environmental Education Centre (EEC) is involved with the Bega Valley CDAT, and recently had a landscaping project completed. The next phase is to incorporate Aboriginal artworks within the garden and surrounds. The intention is that this site reflects the input of Aboriginal community and students who often visit the centre.
The CDAT has approached local Elder Aunty Colleen for assistance with a major work on the entrance building at the camp, and this will be funded by Bournda EEC.
Local junior high school students and community members will also undertake a project to transform the Bourda EEC ropes course with Aboriginal artwork that tell stories important to them.
The ropes activity has been a popular part of the leadership camps that have been led by Bega Valley CDAT. The EEC facility has been the venue for the police visits and other camp activities, so the artworks would establish a strong visual link with the site and the objectives of the CDAT; to bring communities together to minimise the risks of alcohol and other drug harm.
The second activity underway from Bega Valley CDAT is ‘Connection to country, connection to body’. These camps for young people will be run in partnership with Bournda EEC. The centre has been running the Bournda leadership camp for the past 11 years. The camp was adjusted for the first time this year to day trips to make it more accessible in the current climate.
Goulburn CDAT is leading training for facilitators to be able to run their own music therapy workshops, to bring healing through music.
Rhythm2Recovery is a day workshop which was held on Friday November 6. The event trained facilitators in the Goulburn community to run drumming workshops for their peers and communities as a protective factor for alcohol and other drug use and stress.
The seven-hour course gave participants a good introduction to the Rhythm2Recovery model. It focused on exercises that build confidence in using the drum in therapeutic environments, as well as exercises that explore healthy relationships, emotional regulation, social harmony, teamwork and managing adversity.
Participants get access to a workbook and online resources, including over 200 training videos.
Initially, the CDAT was looking at doing this online, but the energy of everyone being able to participate in the same room together is ‘pretty magic’, as described by participants. Consequently the project was delayed until November, with social distancing in place to keep everyone COVID-safe.
This idea for this activity came about from the Bawley Point forum in 2018. There was a partnership project with four CDATs who were carrying out Rhythm2Recovery workshops. Goulburn CDAT was inspired by this.