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Staying connected: Ngurrara women host cultural camp

Jun 09, 2015

The Ngurrara Women Rangers hosted a two-day cultural camp to strengthen the bond between young women and elders and foster the sharing of traditional knowledge.

Cultural connectedness, knowledge sharing and health and well being were the focus of a two-day Indigenous women’s meeting held in the remote Great Sandy Desert. 

More than 80 women attended the Ngurrara Women’s camp which is held every two years and aims to foster strong bonds between young Aboriginal women and senior elders.

Ngurrara Ranger Coordinator and event organiser Chantelle Murray said it was great to see such a diverse group of participants which included teenagers, young women and senior elders as well as women from surrounding communities and health organisations.

“It was great to see the young people and the old people out there building a bond and a relationship as they shared knowledge on country, about country. It’s very important to have that knowledge passed on, especially to those young girls,’’ she said.

The women’s meeting was held at Kurlku, about 240 km south of Fitzroy Crossing and was opened with a cultural welcoming around the purlawala jila - a vital living water source in the desert, which is regularly maintained by the Ngurrara Rangers.

“My favourite moment was when I was looking at everybody at purlawala standing around there and focusing down on the jila, which has some water in it, listening to one of the Traditional Owners talk about her stories. That was my moment of peace and connection,’’ Mrs Murray said.

Health and well being sessions were held during the event along with workshops on sexual health, domestic violence, nutrition, diabetes and drugs and alcohol.

Mrs Murray said creative activities including a suicide prevention painting session, desert dress fashion and design class, a bush medicine and culture walk and bead-making really appealed to the young women and kept them engaged during the camp.

“The young girls really got stuck into the activities. They were really excited about putting their designs on traditional desert dresses and through the suicide prevention workshop they shared their stories through their paintings,’’ she said.

“It was really moving and powerful to see someone, who doesn’t talk to anyone except their friends do something on paper to express themselves. It told a story; it was their story.’’

The young women attending the event, including Sharayiah Rogers, said being away from town, painting and eating bush tucker were among the highlights of the camp.

“I enjoyed being on country, seeing the purlawala jila and learning about how to find the jila,’’ she said.

Bardi Jawi women ranger Bernadette Angus said she had travelled from the Dampier Peninsula to attend the camp, along with other rangers from the Fitzroy Valley.

“It was a good experience and my first time being on Ngurrara country,’’ she said.

“I enjoyed learning from the other women, hearing their stories and for them to share their country with us, particularly about how they make digging sticks, sandals out of the bush and seeing the young kids join us on country and learning from elders.’’

The camp was organised by the KLC-facilitated Ngurrara Women Rangers and was supported by the Yanunijarra PBC, Mangkaja Arts, Yiriman Project, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council (KAMSC), Nindilingari Cultural Health Service, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, Aarnja, KALACC, and Telethon Perth.