Recently, the Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Coordinator used a “Working Together” small grant to fund a cultural immersion day, facilitated by Den Barber from Yarrabin Cultural Connections.
Held in the lower Hunter Valley, the day included visiting and interpreting several Aboriginal sites, a smoking ceremony and a dance performance.
It was a popular and successful event, said Greater Sydney Regional Landcare Coordinator, Madeline Florin with 29 people attending with a waiting list.
“There was plenty of discussion that was both informative and, at times, challenging. All who participated found it valuable with about half the participants taking something away that they could use with their own Landcare group.
“A moment of communal comprehension and understanding was when our group was unexpectedly denied entry to a site we had planned to visit. This was confronting and provided a moment of reflection on the fact that many Aboriginal people are not able to access their Country.
“This opportunity was great in that our Landcarers across Greater Sydney are working with varying degrees of knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal culture, history and land management techniques and there is a need and thirst amongst the Landcare and Bushcare communities to learn and better understand Aboriginal culture. This will promote more respectful and culturally sensitive engagement from the Landcare and Bushcare community.
Madeleine said each participant learnt a great deal and the day’s impact was personal with different reflections from different participants.
“It made everyone think more deeply about the day and we can all take something unique away from it. The co-presenters of Den and Aboriginal Landcare Coordinator from the Cooks River Alliance, Ciaron Dunn, helped give different perspectives, knowledge and views.
This day was just the beginning of a learning journey and many participants reported that they will go away and continue learning.
The “Working Together” Aboriginal Communities Engagement Program is an initiative made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration of Local Land Services NSW and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.
From the northern rainforests of Gumbaynggirr Country to the open plains and rocky ranges of the Wiljali, stretching across the largest Country in NSW, the Wiradjuri, and up to the alpine landscapes of the Maneroo, the original Landcarers have been working with Country and on country for millennia.
Across NSW, traditional and new Landcarers have been coming together to celebrate, heal and work on local landscapes through funding from the NSW Landcare Program’s Working Together Program.
In the Upper Snowy Landcare region and Maneroo Country, the local Landcare community have been busy building stronger connections with the local Aboriginal community networks.
“We recently held a two-day on-country theory and show and tell workshop which helped bring adults and children together and aimed to develop an understanding of Maneroo country, its people, practices, perspectives, special sites and artefacts,” said Upper Snowy Landcare Network Local Landcare Coordinator, Lauren Van Dyke.
“The Upper Snowy Landcare Network recently commenced a lease on a significant part of the Gegezerick Travelling Stock Reserve – a grassy woodland overlooking the Monaro Plains and the little village of Berridale. While we were aware of the Aboriginal significance of this place (with anecdotal stories) we were informed during this workshop of its purpose as a traditional training ground.”
“Led by Aboriginal cultural heritage expert’s Aboriginal elders, Glen Morris, Chris (Snappy) Griffiths and Graham Moore, the knowledge that the Gegegedzerick Hill being a training ground for young indigenous people was welcome news indeed. Especially as on the second day we had more than 40 school children join in from the Trakz Program – an established program consisting of activities and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Cooma to learn about cultural beliefs and practices on Country.
“The event helped us all begin to understand the land from an Aboriginal perspective and the key information gathered will assist in the future management of the Landcare site. Opportunities to build and strengthen the connection with local people and the local landscape is at the core of what ‘Landcare’ is”, Lauren said.
Up in Gumbaynggirr country, North Coast Regional Landcare Network held a three-day event that included developing and exploring cultural knowledge within the region, and ways to move forward in line with the work Traditional Custodians have been undertaking for generations.
North Coast Regional Landcare Coordinator Josh Keating said the event and outcomes were a chance to identify opportunities to initiate and strengthen ties between the local Landcare community and Aboriginal groups and organisations.
“Our event was part of our annual Regional Gathering and we weaved together the theme of Working Together: past, present future throughout the event. It was a opportunity to focus on what work has been done in the past between Landcare groups and Aboriginal communities, what is currently being jointly delivered and what we would like to do in the future.
“It was great to see that there is a common goal by participants across the region to embrace the opportunity to learn how we can better work with Aboriginal communities in our local areas. Additionally, at a regional scale, to learn about people’s connection to their country and take those learnings away and inform how we can work with local Aboriginal groups in our area.
“The North Coast Region follows Landcare NSW’s recognition that Aboriginal communities are the original Landcarers and we are all focused on caring for the land, environment and communities in our region and building a sustainable approach to the future.
“One of our strongest outcomes was the acknowledgement that our work will be strengthened with an application for funding put forward for a Regional Aboriginal Engagement Officer who will help local networks and groups connect with relevant groups, organisations or Traditional Owners.
“Both communities have a great opportunity to engage with one another and share one another’s knowledge and experience for mutual learning. The things that Landcare can offer to Aboriginal communities include capacity building and increasing knowledge of technical skills regarding environmental management. Whereas Aboriginal groups can provide cultural knowledge and locally specific information that helps Landcarers understand how they can better manage their land. This will strengthen all our works in supporting our local environment and communities.
“This is one of the most valuable things about community connection; it is about getting people together to connect and seeing how we can evolve from there,” Josh said.
NSW Landcare Program Community Aboriginal Engagement Officer, Craig Aspinall, said the 2021 theme of ‘Healing Country’ and the wider theme of seeking greater protections for our lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from harm, highlights how Landcare and Aboriginal community organisations have a joint purpose and can grow together to care for country and the communities that live on the land and waters.
“Across the state NSW Landcare groups and community organisations have been working with Aboriginal community organisations with the shared objective to build knowledge and understanding and work for the betterment of our environment. The Working Together Program is just one way Landcare NSW is supporting and connecting with traditional landholders.
“Continuing to grow together through cultural and environmental understanding will ensure that future generations will have the knowledge and understanding of the connection between the health of our environment and our communities and how it is all intertwined,” Craig said.
This initiative is made possible by the NSW Landcare Program. A collaboration between the Local Land Services and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.
A key component of the NSW Landcare Program is the facilitation of a community of practice, or, ‘gathering’/workshop, for Program Participants (Host Organisations and Coordinators).
This type of forum has been identified as a key milestone for the Program. The opportunity for hosts and coordinators to come together from across the state to share experiences, learn with each other and from each other and to build personal relationships at both the regional and state scales, is seen as critical to building common understanding and capacity for our Landcarers.
Registrations are well over 100 now, with another 50 or so expected comprising of Landcare Coordinators, host organisation members and Regional Landcare Coordinators descending on Dubbo from 8-10 June.
With a key note address by Robbie Sefton, an inspirational communication specialist and farmer, plus guest trainers that will provide sessions that ‘Build Resilience, Not Burnout’ and ‘Whole Brain Thinking’ there is a lot to stimulate thought.
However, this Gathering is not only about learning and receiving information, the Program Team and Landcare NSW staff also want to hear from the Coordinators, hosts and their regions about what works well, the different ways of doing things and what could work better for Landcare into the future.
There are sessions requiring regional thinking and regionally responses, individual self selected optional trainings and plenty of time to confer and network.
Naturally it wouldn’t be Landcare without a few social opportunities and participants are encouraged to attend events at the Devils Hollow Brewery on the first night and the special Conference Dinner on the Wednesday night. If you would like more information, please contact the NSW Landcare Program Team.
On 30 & 31 March 2021, the Upper Snowy Landcare Network provided a very special opportunity to the local Landcare and school community to walk on the traditional training grounds of Gegedzerick, near Berridale.
Supported by funds from the NSW Landcare Program’s “Working Together” Aboriginal Engagement Program and South East Local Land Services, the event was designed to train local people to recognise Aboriginal objects, artefacts, landscape features and perspectives on land management and traditional Aboriginal culture.
Aboriginal cultural heritage experts Uncle Glen Morris, Graham Moore and local Aboriginal Elder Uncle Snappy were on hand to share their knowledge, provide samples and inject their sharp sense of humour and life experience into a very successful two-day event.
Starting at the local CWA Hall each day, participants were given an insight into the types of Aboriginal objects that can be found in the local landscape, including samples of tools and artefacts for everyone to see and touch. The group then travelled a short distance to the Gegedzerick Travelling Stock Reserve, which is being managed by the Upper Snowy Landcare Network, to utilise their new-found identification skills and knowledge to conduct a “walkover” inspection of the site to identify any potential Aboriginal artefacts.
Under the legislation relating to Aboriginal cultural objects, any artefacts found must be registered and recorded on the NSW Government’s database of Aboriginal objects. A key part of the training during the event involved how to fill in a ‘site-card’ to record the exact location and landscape features surrounding the site and then uploading these to the database.
It is very culturally important that Aboriginal artefacts stay in the location they are found, are protected from disturbance from either farming, conservation, development or other impacts such as soil erosion. Upper Snowy Landcare Network will use the information gathered during this very successful event to further inform future management of the Travelling Stock Reserve.