Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation Spring News 2016
A Song of Hope by Noonuccal, Oodgeroo
Now brood no more On the years behind you, The hope assigned you Shall the past replace, When a juster justice Grown wise and stronger Points the bone no longer At a darker race.
So long we waited Bound and frustrated, Till hate be hated And caste deposed; Now light shall guide us, No goal denied us, And all doors open That long were closed.
See plain the promise, Dark freedom-lover! Night’s nearly over, And though long the climb, New rights will greet us, New mateship meet us, And joy complete us In our new Dream Time.
To our fathers’ fathers The pain, the sorrow; To our children’s children The glad tomorrow.
New Baabayn website and videos
Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation is proud to announce our new website www.baabayn.org.au and a suite of videos with more to come.
Roberto Giunta from StoryMotive has kindly provided in-kind support which includes digital media marketing, new domain name, website hosting, a new website, & a suite of promotional & mini-documentary videos.
Baabayn’s 2016 NAIDOC Event in Pictures
Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation is proud to announce our new website www.baabayn.org.au and a suite of videos with more to come.
With special thanks to our photographers Elizabeth Burke, Roberto Giunta and Sister Rose, Mary Kinne, to our funders—(1) the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, Dept. of Prime Minister & Cabinet; (2) Aboriginal Affairs, NSW Government—to Blacktown City Council, and to everyone whose performance or hard work behind the scenes made the day such a success.
Roberto Giunta’s Story
I’ll never forget hearing my first Welcome to Country, five years ago. This moment sent me down a path of discovering Aboriginal culture, which has been an eye-opening and heartwarming journey for me.
I had travelled to Yamba, a small town in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, to provide film production training to local high school students, who were involved in Macquarie University’s National Indigenous Science Education program.
I remember hearing the beautiful words spoken by Aunty Lenore Parker, a proud Yaegl woman, as I met with Elders from Maclean. Her words swept over me with an incredible rush of love and acceptance. This was the first time I felt as though I truly belonged as an Australian, even after 37 years of growing up here.
I was born in Australia to Italian immigrant parents, and I’ve always been proud to call this country home. But growing up in a predominantly Anglo-Celtic neighbourhood was not always easy. I was often called a “wog” and made to feel like I didn’t belong. This all changed when I heard Aunty Lenore speak.
Before meeting the Yaegl community, I had no Aboriginal friends and no real understanding about Aboriginal culture or history, beyond the colonial stories I’d heard at school. In fact, I was quite naive and ill-informed, believing the negative stereotypes that we often hear in the media. The Yaegl people opened my eyes. Their friendliness, warmth and humility put to rest any false notions that I once believed about Australia’s First People. Most of all, I was struck by their resilience and spirit.
But even the kindest smiles couldn’t mask the pain in the eyes of the Elders, who had survived many injustices and tragedies. Their stories captivated me, so I set out to learn more about the oldest living culture in the world, and Australia’s dark history with our First Nations people.
Since that day, I’ve had the privilege of teaching film production skills to hundreds of Aboriginal students from schools across NSW. I’ve also produced videos for various Aboriginal events and gatherings, as well as government bodies and non-profits organisations.
Along the way, I’ve formed close bonds with Aboriginal friends, teachers and mentors, who’ve taught me so much about their history and culture. In particular Dr John Hunter. John belongs to the Gamilaraay and Wiradjuri people of north western NSW. He grew up in Western Sydney and went to school in Mt Druitt. John is helping guide me on my journey in learning about Aboriginal culture, history and spirituality as well as helping me understand the power of intergenerational trauma, as both his mother and grandmother are from the stolen generations. John takes pride in sharing his knowledge of Aboriginal culture and he’s working tirelessly to preserve the traditional knowledge of his Elders and pass down this legacy to younger generations.
These incredible people inspire me to do what I do. I feel motivated to share their stories, to help educate the broader community about one of the richest cultures on the planet. I’m also hoping to nurture a sense of pride and identity in young people, who may feel disconnected from their culture.
I want to share these stories in a respectful, inspirational and heart-warming way, as I believe that trauma and loss can only be healed with love. Those of us who aren’t Indigenous should never under-estimate the power of reaching out a hand to say we’re in this journey together, as we strive to close the gap and break the cycle of disadvantage.
This is what draws me to the people at Baabayn. Whenever I step in the door at Rutherglen Community Centre, I see love, beauty and acceptance. I want the rest of Australia to see this too.
I believe in the Baabayn Group, and share their dream of establishing a healing centre in Western Sydney. Although I don’t have the resources of a large organisation, I’ll do whatever I can to help. My hope is that others will get behind this wonderful initiative too. The women from the Baabayn Group deserve your help and need your love. After all, we’re in this together.
Roberto Giunta – StoryMotive – www.storymotive.com
Golliwogs on Tuesdays!
It all began as a simple request to make a paper pattern of this wonderfully expressive black doll that came to the gathering one Tuesday. We ended up six weeks later with fifteen of the beautiful creatures having a Golliwog Morning Tea party.
The humble Golliwog apparently still has the reputation of being politically incorrect! In the 1970’s there was quite a fuss about them and they vanished from homes and stores.
Such an attitude even continues in some parts today. But for the Baabayn women (sewers and supervisors) it was a happy exercise of gluing the face, stuffing the various body parts, choosing the clothing, making the curly hair and seeing the finished product emerge slowly week after week. The dolls will now enjoy the quiet and cheerful company of different homes.
For many women there is something calming and settling about being surrounded by pins and needles, threads and scissors and colourful fabrics to play with and eventually bringing together a lovely product such as a Golliwog. It’s more than the making of the actual doll: it’s about being creative together, of admiring the skills of each other, of sharing the resources and telling the stories associated with the past week, the coming week and the joys and pains of life in general. It’s relaxing to have a yarn while keeping the fingers and brain engaged! It’s infectious to see the joy on the faces of those who get the doll clothed first and it’s a great feeling to have accomplished the task.
Long may Golliwog dolls bring joy to their owners!
Visit to Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich
Baabayn thinking ahead
On 19 July, Baabayn held a Strategic Planning Day, expertly facilitated by our friend and supporter Sandy Greenwood. Those present included the three Directors, four other members of the Baabayn community, Sister Naomi, and the two voluntary administrative associates. We encountered some procedures that were new to us, so we were very grateful to Sandy for guiding us through.
We began with a “SWOT analysis.” This was an exercise in identifying Baabayn’s Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as the Opportunities Baabayn might take and the Threats that it might need to guard against—or transform into opportunities.
The results of our analysis were revealing. Under “strengths,” we re-affirmed the “positives” that draw our people to Baabayn—that our Centre is a place of warmth, respect and safety, and that Baabayn is founded on strong relationships, trust and good communication. Working on the other three categories helped us to clarify that:
- It would be good to develop more Indigenous sources of support, as at present we are heavily dependent on non-Indigenous;
- More people with the right skills are needed to share the administrative burden;
- We are handicapped by lack of funding for (a) salaries (e.g., for administrative support) and (b) paying for the services of members of our own community who do important work for us.
- We need to nurture the next generation(s) of leaders in order to assure Baabayn’s future flourishing;
- We could be doing more advocacy for services and programs to support Indigenous families;
- We could be doing more to support young people with entering the workforce.
Next, Sandy helped us formulate a Value Proposition. As she pointed out, there are a lot of positive things to say about Baabayn’s work, but what makes us different from the other excellent Aboriginal organizations in the Mt Druitt area? Putting it like this helped us realize the importance we attach to making people feel at home in a safe space that encourages a sense of belonging. Coming to Baabayn is not about “ticking boxes,” and we accept and welcome people who might not “tick boxes” elsewhere. In the end, we wrote our Value Proposition to the following effect:
As a place of support and healing, Baabayn stands out for its open door. The Baabayn door is open to Aboriginal people of all mobs. No one who seeks support is turned away.
We also noted Baabayn’s ability to connect with at-risk families in a way that government and other external agencies cannot. While our ability to provide community liaison services can make us very valuable to such agencies, our primary loyalty is always to the community members whom we serve—by providing advocacy, for example. We need to spread awareness in the community that Baabayn will support Aboriginal people who are at risk of having their children placed in out-of-home care.
We spent quite a bit of time making lists—of our “key partners,” “key activities,” “key resources,” “client relationships,” “client segments,” and the “channels” through which we deliver services and get our message out to the broader community. And we did that special kind of listing that goes into preparing a budget. Listing our expected costs brought us to the sobering realization that Baabayn might need as much as $75,000 a year just to run its core activities. This served to concentrate our minds on income generation.
Sandy pointed out that the beauty of income that you earn yourself is that you can do what you like with it—you are not bound by a funding agreement like the one you have to sign when you secure grant income. This is why, when we broke up into two discussion clusters, one cluster focused on planning one specific income-generating activity: cultural awareness training.
The Directors and other members of the Baabayn community are already valued visitors at a select group of schools. These schools give generously to Baabayn, which cherishes the good relationships that it has built with them over time. The planning exercise on which Cluster 1 concentrated was based on the assumption that, particularly at this time when “cultural competence” is in fashion, cultural awareness training could be developed to yield a continuous income stream from an expanded set of client schools.
Cluster 1 devised a five-month plan for developing and marketing cultural awareness modules that could be delivered, on a fee-for-service basis, to a broader range of schools. Some more specialized cultural connectedness modules would also be prepared specifically for Aboriginal people in, for example, rehabs, jails, and juvenile detention centres. Time would be invested in assuring the modules’ quality by, for example, doing research to make sure that we have our facts right. Other members of the Baabayn community, especially young people and Elders who are willing to tell their stories, would be recruited so that the burden of delivering these modules can be shared broadly.
All this preparation would take time—say, five fortnightly workshop sessions. Meanwhile, the project team would be identifying networks through which Baabayn’s cultural awareness training could be advertised. The goal would be to have three contacts per school, drawn from Aboriginal liaison officers, human society and environment curriculum experts, year/level coordinators and, last but not least, principals. And if things went really well, DVDs might be made of both the cultural awareness and the cultural connection modules, so that we could reach audiences that are too far away for us to visit them in person.
Only when all this preparation was done would we start promoting and marketing our modules—a two-months process. We would know that this had been successful if by the end our visits calendar was fully booked for the next school term.
Pursuing another line of thought, this cluster turned its attention to the Homework Club. On one hand, if we could demonstrate that we were serving more students (perhaps by running a second session at our Centre on another day), we would be in a better position to win major grant funding. On the other hand, if we were able to take our tutoring services outside the Centre, they could potentially become a source of fee income. For example, we could run tutoring groups on school premises, tutor individual students in the home, and even develop online tutoring. And we could tutor students for the online world, training them in skills that they will need in order to compete on today’s job market. We could even put on a build-your-own tablet class using the commercially available “Fiftysix Tablet Kit.”
Again, we envisaged a period of preparation before marketing begins. It was agreed that more work was necessary to improve our Homework Club model before we start to market it. And we would need more volunteer tutors in order to expand our activities. So, after consultation with Loyola College, our faithful source of student tutors up till now, we would extend our recruiting efforts to all the high schools in the Mt Druitt area (a database of schools would be created to facilitate this). There would be a series of workshops, to agree on the improvements to be made, to bring all our existing tutors on board, and to train the new tutors. There would be one open workshop that school Aboriginal liaison officers would be invited to attend. This would inaugurate the marketing campaign, in which we would reach out to all the schools in the Mt Druitt area. By this time, we would have a flyer to advertise our service, and we would be savvier about connecting with youth culture to get our message across. We might even have persuaded our local AFL footballers to mentor and inspire our Homework Club members.
The other cluster faced an equally important task: succession planning. They asked what steps Baabayn would need to take if it set the following goal: to have three Aboriginal people aged between about 30 and about 55 ready to step up to leadership roles within Baabayn in three years’ time. The discussion focused on ways and means of attracting / retaining, nurturing and mentoring Aboriginal women within that age group who are committed to Aboriginal empowerment and have empathy, warmth, a robust sense of responsibility, strong cultural understanding and good organizational and communication skills. It was agreed that one key approach would be to keep developing the Yong Mums Group, which is a source of potential leaders. Also important would be funding, not only for training for prospective leaders, but also to offer them a few hours per week of paid work with Baabayn.
We need funding to employ an Aboriginal administrative officer, not to mention the capacity building coordinator who would spearhead the implementation of all our good ideas. And so there emerged the idea of a small group to put our fundraising efforts onto a more systematic basis while adopting a multifaceted fundraising strategy.
It was a great day, full of that judicious mix of visionary enthusiasm and sober realism needed to hatch plans for long-term sustainability. Going forward, Baabayn has three options for capitalizing on the day’s success. One is to regard our action-planning purely as a training exercise. After the day, we all felt we knew much more about how to do strategic planning than we had before. That is already of great value. The second option grows out of the first. Suppose we think of new ideas that are even better than those that we came up with on the planning day. We can then apply what we have learned, turning the new ideas into developed action plans. But the third option is to recognize that the day’s work yielded three action plans that don’t need much more work before we can start implementing them. Win-win-win.
Thank you again, Sandy!