"It is time to truly build authentic relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples around the world - I believe this project is a conduit to achieve that aim.” Dr Carlie Atkinson
The Voices of the Rivers project involves developing an internet-based educational and advocacy resource based on the lived experience of Indigenous peoples living in communities on the Daly, Katherine and Waterhouse Rivers in the Northern Territory of Australia. This resource will comprise film, audio, text and animation.
The project will involve discussions with Aboriginal Elders (e.g. Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Mel Sandy) and other community members over a period of several years as their communities undertake healing journeys from the adversities they have faced over the past decades. We want to showcase to the world what is happening in these communities, the good and the bad.
My visits to the region will allow me to hear of the adversities these communities have faced and still face today. For example, Aunty Miriam has described how Nauiyu was once a thriving community, but has become increasingly dysfunctional as a result of the Federal government’s paternalistic and controlling Intervention in 2007.
“There’s nothing here. Everything has been taken off us and given to outside people,” says Aunty Miriam. No wonder substance use issues and youth suicides have surfaced in this beautiful community.
I will see firsthand what life is like in the Rivers’ communities, hear about the strengths and assets of the people, as well as the barriers to healing they face.
I will ask community members, “If you could create the future, what would the future for your community look like?” And how can Sharing Culture and wider society help your community to achieve these dreams?
My visits will allow me to learn about Indigenous healing practices. There is much that other Indigenous communities worldwide can be inspired by and learn about. Moreover, there is much that non-Indigenous people can learn from the humane and holistic Indigenous view of heath and wellbeing.
I will learn about the Indigenous concept of dadirri, and work with Aunty Miriam and Sharing Culture Advisor Pip Gordon to explore the concepts of Connection and Belonging.
I want to help facilitate the connection of young people in Nauiyu to the ‘outside’ world to facilitate their living in two cultures. Aunty Miriam advocates for experiences that allow Indigenous youth to learn to ‘walk in two worlds’ - the Aboriginal and mainstream Western worlds.
I know that I will be very fortunate in learning a lot more about Indigenous culture, arts (e.g. painting, music, dancing) and spirituality. I will undertake a journey that will facilitate my own healing.
Voices of the Rivers will allow a worldwide audience to see the adversities that Indigenous peoples face and overcome. Our audience will gain access into the everyday lives of Indigenous peoples as they travel a healing journey and celebrate with them their successes.
I hope that many of our audience will connect with and, in some way or other, help and/or learn from the Rivers’ communities.
We will help Indigenous peoples create a narrative that challenges the disempowering discourse and paternalistic actions of governments. This narrative will help Indigenous communities worldwide. It will help empower people living in The Rivers’ communities.
Cultural Connection Tour
My first trip will begin with a 5-day Cultural Connection Tour (with Aunty Miriam and other Elders) in late May, followed by nine days of community visits discussions that will help us develop our unique initiative.
The Cultural Connection Tour will start in Darwin and proceed to the Nauiyu Community where we will sit with the community Elders and ‘share stories, culture, listen, learn and connect.’ We will:
There are still places left if you wish to join us. Just contact Pip Gordon or Nicole Kinnaird through the details on the flyer. You can find out more about what the trip involves here.
“Dadirri – ‘deep inner listening, quite still awareness’. Aunty Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann has been instrumental in gifting these words and the knowledge that they hold to generations of people.
As an Aboriginal women myself, these words have always deeply resonated with me. In my language group the equivalent world is ‘gan’na’ which means to hear, listen, feel, think, understand.
It is time to listen, to feel, to think and to understand where we have been and where we are going. It is time our stories are told as we move forward and create a cycle of intergenerational healing.
Voices of the Rivers: Empowering and Connecting Indigenous Communities is an initiative that truly honours this process. I cannot stress enough how important it is to support this project.
It is time to truly build authentic relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples around the world - I believe this project is a conduit to achieve that aim.” Dr Carlie Atkinson