Wujal Wujal Workshop 1

Our purpose

We hosted a number of workshops, meeting and yarns in Wujal Wujal Community on the banks of the beautiful Bloomfield River to ask Traditional Owners and Elders what they wanted young people to know, value and do about the Sea Country and the inland country that influences the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

It is important for the GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) and us to visit communities to listen to what  the community wants young peopleto  learn about their country and culture. We wanted to use what we had found out, to develop activities for young people so they might learn more. We also wanted to find out about what people were already doing,  to see if there were ways to make existing activities richer.

 

Community Workshop

With the cooperation of the council, Mayor and staff from the Mayor’s office, we issued personal invitations to the 52 elders of the community. Over 30 people came to talk with us about what was important to them and what they wanted young people to know. The council members and the mayor came to the whole workshop which was a great complement. Thankyou to Mayor Des Taylee for embracing this program so earnestly.

 

Workshop techniques

We introduced the Holistic Planning and Teaching Framework My Land, My Tracks by Uncle Ernie Grant, Elder of the Jirrbal tribe. Jeff McMullen and Uncle Ernie have built a video which describes how young Indigenous people understand their world and learn. We use this framework to acknowledge the holistic view of Indigenous people and their connection to Land. Ernie says people view Land, Language and Culture in the context of Time, Place and Relationships. We also use this framework to introduce ourselves and any visitors to the community.

We used an “Introduction Circle” to introduce ourselves personally to 1/3 of the room each, thus enabling every person to meet us and tell us what we needed to know about them and their community. It was also a chance to connect to people we already knew and greet them personally. People formed a circle and the three of us moved around the circle to meet people in their space in the room.

We then used a Think Pair Share Four strategy to uncover answers to the questions “Think about what it was it like when you were 10? How did you learn from your Elders?” . People form pairs and tell each other. They choose the best response and tell the pair next to them. The four choose the best most useful  or most interesting/funny answer and then they tell us and the whole group.

What also happened was people were so keen to listen to their elders, that some community leaders suggested the old people be given a “stage” and allowed to share their stories in language, which they did. People told us afterwards, they learned new things and that they were surprised how comfortable the elders were to share stories in our forum. It was funny and warm and wonderful for everyone, even though for us most was in language.

We then used Think Pair, Share Four again to respond to the question; “If you had a grandchild or new family member born today, what would you want them to learn when they were about 10 and how might they learn it?". The context of the workshop so far meant we gathered powerful data.

We then spent some time describing how a Sea Country Guardians project might unfold and asked if people wanted to try some activities to help young people connect with country and their culture. We offred to assist them to try ideas. We were also very keen to collect new ideas for activities which might be considered in future.

 

Other consulation and yarns

We also met with individual families, clans and groups who wanted to talk in more depth and who wanted to suggest actvities of importance to them. These  discussions were as important to us as those we had at the workshop.

We met also with council representatives, councillors, the mayor and with the IKC manager  Carol Toby and individual rangers to discuss ideas such as "walks on country", "camping", "cultural audits" and collaborative work on country; each of which could provide learning opportunities for young people, using traditional and new ways to learn.

 

Bloomfield River State School

Thanks to Lorne Willadse, principal of the Bloomfield River State School which services the community of Wujal Wujal, for her time and frankness about the environmental programs of the school and opportunities for the school to collaborate on Sea Country projects. Using an adaptation of the "A way with words" Rich Task and some science programs, looks like a great start. Congratulations to Bloomfield River State School on its collaboration with Tangaroa Blue and the Beach Clean Up project, collecting national data on beach debris and their causes. We look forward to our next visit to the school.