My trip to Woorabinda

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Woorabinda with Tyler Wellensiek, the State Library’s field officer who assists with the community’s  Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC). We were invited to an Elders luncheon hosted by Red Cross, Link Up and Bidgerdii. These gatherings have been occurring once a month and will continue up until the end of May when there will be a Healing Camp for the community and paricularly those who were forcibly removed from their families and their communities and brought to Woorabinda to live in the Dormitories.

I took a large folder of library resources that aren’t accessible online; a bided book of old images, a DVD of digital stories and 2 CDs with language data. The Elders were very excited to see the material. I left the material at the Woorabinda IKC so they could discuss which should be available online and which should be kept private. They can also identify people and places in the photographs and edit any incorrect captions.

It has been about 6 years since I last visited Woori. The first time I went as a young artsworker with Stylin Up, the first year the project went regional. I’m looking forward to working with this community in a creative capacity again. I intend to take one of my digital art projects to Woorabinda. During my visit, I had the opportunity to talk to a number of service providers, council and community and gained a lot of interest in the Telling Country project which I manage.

Telling Country is a kuril dhagun project that will  engage young Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders in visual art workshops and using iPads as a means of engaging with, illustrating and sharing stories about their country. Woorabinda is one of the selected communities for this year. The State Library is supplying two iPads at each IKC community so their is potential for continued practice once this project has finished.

Woorabinda has a great range of services and ongoing creative projects that we hope to build on. In particular, the music program produced a track with Woorabinda Boys which was awarded runner-up in the 2012 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Competition. The Woorabinda Boys received a prize of $1000 for their fantastic song ‘How High How Low’.

I only hope that the visual art based activities I facilitate will be as successful.  I will be negotiating a time to return to Woori which will best suit the community. It’s likely to happen at the end of May as I have been invited back to present a session at the Healing Camp.

In the short time I spent there, I had the privilege to sit and listen to some wonderful yarns. This project will give young people the opportunity to hear these stories from their old people and also create their own.