Let’s Talk EREA Aboriginal Immersion
Dates: 29 August – 4 Sept 2020
Are you interested in undertaking an immersion with Aboriginal people of north-west NSW to develop first hand an understanding of traditional culture, spirituality and the quest for justice? This program will appeal to educational leaders who are interested in supporting the educational achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and furthering Reconciliation in Australia. It also provides an opportunity for EREA staff to reflect upon the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy. The Let’s Talk program was developed in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and London in 1997 amidst the climate of the Irish Peace Process. Let’s Talk events have centered upon issues of peace and conflict, identity, human rights, socio-economic issues and Australian Aboriginal principles of reconciliation.Through the journey, elements of these issues will arise through dialogue with locals and elders when visiting communities and places of significance to the Aboriginal people of north-west NSW. The Let’s Talk facilitators will ensure all participants are guided and supported through what has proven to be an inspirational journey, an experience you will never forget. This immersion is a three way partnership between the Edmund Rice Centre, Edmund Rice Education Australia and the Indigenous communities of North-West NSW. This program involves journeying with others to learn about the Myall Creek Massacre near Bingara and the Freedom Rides in Moree, spending time in the remote community of Goodooga at the school and youth centre, and hearing the stories of celebration and ritual beside the river in Brewarrina.
Cassandra Gibbs, the leader of Let’s Talk, facilitates a powerful immersion into the challenges faced by Aboriginal communities in Northern NSW since 1788, as well as cultural experiences and opportunities to dialogue with many community partners. It is due to the relationships she builds in the local communities that the participants are welcomed into dialogue by elders and community leaders.
Reflection from Participants
I attended the ‘Let’s Talk’ Indigenous Immersion with open eyes, heart and mind and it was one of the best experiences I’ve been given the opportunity to participate in. I quickly learnt the immersion was not a ‘tour’ but a ‘journey’ and this stayed with me from the beginning to now and will into the future. I found Cassie to be a wonderful and knowledgeable person who gave much of herself, both emotionally and culturally, throughout the journey. The people she introduced us to and the wealth of knowledge and experiences these people shared was diverse, interesting, challenging, unique, respectful and honest. Throughout my journey and participating in ‘smoking ceremonies’, visiting historical sites, monuments and places of significance, listening to ‘Uncles’ and ‘Aunties’ about past and present issues, greatly deepened my respect and understanding of Indigenous people and Indigenous Australia. The memories, culture, people and stories I experienced and shared on my journey will forever remain close to my heart. Thank you Cassie – you’re a gem.
Paul Dorian, St Paul’s Gillies Plains, Let’s Talk EREA 2016
I saw breathtaking forever changing countryside, smiling children thriving in their community, families sharing culture, story, ceremony, song and dance. I saw hope for the future…I was inspired wastching Damo catching witchetty grubs with his grandfather, their relationship with each other and mother earth and the willingness of an 11 year old boy to freely share his knowledge. I am inspired to help our young people make these connections in our community with the help of our Gubi Gubi elders.
Maggie Carless, Deception Bay FLC, Let’s Talk EREA 2017
I have come to the realisation that every day was an aha moment, from the young men teaching the children around the campfire to Bindy’s little ones learning to sing and count in language. In between, the realisation of great wrong at the eerie massacre sight at Myall Creek, Auntie Noela’s resignation and disappointment, the power of Tom and Lachie and Bradley, the beauty of Goodooga, the desolation of Brewarrina. Finally, the power of Cassie and the fracturing of a race of people into a thousand pieces after colonisation. Since then for many of us they have been ‘hidden in plain sight’ (Peter Carey).
Fran Harding, Deception Bay FLC, Let’s Talk EREA 2017
I felt a profound sadness and sense of grief for what has transpired in the Brewarrina and other regions. The message Brad gave us was that it is okay to be ‘uncomfortable’ about what has happened. We can be uncomfortable and also honest – honest about what we have experienced and seen… Though I am still trying to understand and delve more deeply into the experience it has been very profound and altered my perspective tremendously already. I am uncomfortable.
Jacinta Sheridan, St Kevin’s College Toorak, Let’s Talk EREA 2017