3 July 2023

Our Tasmanian team's Cultural Immersion Day on the traditional lands of the Stoney Creek Nation.

Image: Life Without Barriers staff sit on chairs in a circle outdoors.

Members of Life Without Barriers' extended leadership team across Disability and Child, Youth and Family travelled with RAP Working Group members to participate in a Cultural Immersion Day on the Country of the Stoney Creek Nation.

The event took place where three clans - the Leterremairrener, the Panninher and the Tyerrenoterpanner - would meet together and with other Nations for celebration and connection. This place is known today as The Gorge in the city of Launceston. There are no known survivors today of the three Clans, and so Tasmanian Aboriginal people with links to other Clan areas, have become the caretakers and custodians of the lands.

Image: Hand painted with two dots and a crescent moon shape as part of the Ochre Ceremony.

Elder Aunty Patsy Cameron lead the immersion day and began by conducting a Welcome to Country, followed by an ochre ceremony. The moon and stars created in ochre are to honour the creation story from Aunty Patsy’s Clan.

The drawing represents the crescent moon and her two children. Ochre is collected and processed by women and then shared in ceremonies or at important cultural events on Country and at other opportunities to connect with the wider community.

Image: Aunty Patsy teaching the group how to make string by twining river reed.

The group were then taught about the twining of the river reed and how to make string - used in making rope and baskets. The river reed harvest is a seasonal marker for Aboriginal peoples in Tasmania, and is collected from many special places across the state.

This was an incredibly meditative activity that many found relaxing and grounding, agreeing it would be a good therapeutic activity to undertake with people we support. 

Aunty Patsy led a walk on Country, where she shared her knowledge of the place and its importance to Aboriginal peoples. She spoke about the Black Peppermint Gum trees around them that are found on the Coastal Plains Nation of the northeast coast of Tasmania.

Image: Staff standing together, twining reed to make string.

The Black Peppermint Gum leaves are used in smoking ceremonies as they provide a strong and calming scent. The trees are considered kin by the clans of this Nation and are treated with great care and respect. The bark of the trees was used on shelters and huts.

Aunty Patsy spoke about the challenges that Aboriginal peoples have faced, their strength and ongoing resilience, the importance of recognising the living culture of Aboriginal people and the importance of Reconciliation.

The team had the opportunity to hear from Nick Cameron, the Tasmanian representative on the Voice Engagement Group. Nick shared his insights into the importance of The Voice Referendum and how we can share learnings and support Aboriginal peoples. He also spoke about the importance of listening to Aboriginal peoples.

“The Voice is about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples having a say on issues that impact them and will lead to better outcomes – the way we have been doing it for 200 years hasn’t worked,” Nick said.

To close off the day, the group visited the Queen Victoria Museum. There, they further

explored the history and culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples through rarely-seen original objects.

Image: The First Tasmanians: our story exhibition was held at Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Royal Park, showing a hut.

They learnt about Tasmanian Aboriginal perspectives on climate change, astronomy, stories of creation, craft, technology and architecture. Aunty Patsy shared insights into the artefacts they were seeing.

The Cultural Immersion Day was a valuable learning experience for the group, who were grateful for the opportunity to come together and gain a better understanding of the history and ongoing living culture of Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples and the importance of continued Reconciliation.

Image: The First Tasmanians: our story exhibition held at Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Royal Park, showing a map of Tasmania.

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