Australian Aboriginal people have a rich, living culture that stretches back 50,000 years, but there are fears the cultural knowledge will be lost if it is not put into practice.
South Coast elders claim the cultural practices, knowledge systems and cultural expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a source of great strength, resilience and pride.
Local Aboriginal elder, Uncle Paul Walker, of the Wreck Bay region, organises corroborees and ceremonies for the youth of his area. Over the past 10 years, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council has taken a proactive stance at re-introducing traditional forms of art and dance and the statistics show that more youth are actively getting involved.
Recent Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) studies reveal there has been a steady increase in the practice of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ceremonies by those aged four and 14.
“We want people to own Indigenous culture and feel Australian,” Uncle Pual said.
“We want them to participate in the healing ceremony and let their troubles go away and dance and feel the connection to the ground and country–anyone can feel that if they commit to it.
“We keep our cultural heritage alive by passing our knowledge, arts and rituals from one generation to the next. We speak and teach languages and protect sacred sites. This is why it’s so important for the young fellas to get involved. We can’t lose what we have.”
Indigenous festivals [are] a leading space of innovation in creating a sustainable, secure and mature national culture for all Australians based on cross-cultural recognition.
-Indigenous Cultural Festivals and Community Wellbeing in Australia report
****Summary results from the 2008 and 2014 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). The survey was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from August 2008 to April 2009, and November 2013 to August 2014 respectively,collecting information from approximately 13,300 Indigenous Australians living in private dwellings in remote and non-remote areas, including discrete communities.