Woorabinda Healing Camp

On Saturday, Leslie Acres, a State Library collegue, and I travelled up to Woorabinda for the day to attend a Healing Camp. The camp was a gathering held by Red Cross and Bidgerdii Community Health Service to support the people who were removed from their families and put in the dormitories in Woorabinda.

It was a long journey, we flew to Rockhampton and drove two and a half hours South West to reach the camp but well worth the travel. We were met by the Red Cross bus who lead us down a dusty dirt road to Black Boy where the camp was held. We arrived around 11am in time to watch some traditional dancing and singing. Then for the next session the group was divided in two groups. We joined a group that shared stories about their experiences being in the dormitory. I was really emotional and it was really confronting but at the same time I felt very priviledged to hear stories of heatbreak, abuse, strength and resiliance. I was really glad that there was a break for lunch before we presentd at the next session.

The State Library has a relationship with the Woorabinda community as it has an Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) and has been one of my communities I have been working with in my digital program. We were invited to the camp to meet more of the community and others connected to the community, to promote the services and resources we offer. We took a disc of photographs taken of Worrabinda and held at the State Archives, who we work closely with.  These images were mostly unidentitfied and it was really lovely to see people getting excited about old photographs and recognising their family and community memebers. These image envoke memories and help create dialogue, and in turn the healing process.

It was really important to be there to let people know whats in our collectons, what services we provide but most of all, have a familiar friendly face connected to the library. Many people took my card and plan to visit the library the next time they are in Brisbane. My role doesn’t involve research or a lot of interacting with the collections but I am more than happy to refer community members to people that have that expertise.

I’m really excited the we have re-introduced a front desk and a staff member in the space to greet people as they enter kuril dhagun. I was on front desk when I started working at the library seven years ago and it really is a great thing to have an Indigenous person there to talk to and assist with navigating the large, and sometimes intimidating, institution that is the State Library of Queensland. Hopefully, community visits like the trip to Woori and the front desk will encourage more visits from our mob and have more people engaging in the libraries programs.