Taking a cultural trip

Taking a cultural trip

A cultural awareness workshop centred on Gunaikurnai stories and history was delivered in Bairnsdale to 37 attendees from across East Gippsland businesses and community groups recently.

The ‘Cultural Journey’ workshop was designed to provide attendees not just with guidance on culturally appropriate behaviours; it provides a comprehensive history that helps attendees understand the impacts of colonisation, and the strength and value of cultural identity in East Gippsland.

Delivered in partnership by Brian Stevens and his sister, Melissa Harrison, attendees included mentors and staff from the Workways, Gippsland Engaged Mentoring (GEM) program, and staff from Uniting Care, DELWP, Bairnsdale Secondary College and East Gippsland Water.

The training was partially funded under the Workways partnership with Djillay Ngalu and the Koori Youth Buddy Program, Yangan Ngalu.

Brian is a proud Gunai man who grew up in Orbost. He has a deep understanding of cultural knowledge steeped in Aboriginal community protocols, obligation and cultural responsibility that spans well over two decades. He is the current chair of Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation, chairperson of Banmirra Aboriginal Arts Inc, and treasurer for Kinaway – Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce Victoria.

Melissa is a Gunai woman from Orbost in East Gippsland with direct descendancy links to the Gunditjmara through her great grandfather.

Melissa’s career commenced in the criminal justice system working within community in juvenile justice and child protection in Gippsland after completing a Bachelor of Social Work.

Jan Lucas, joint GEM program coordinator praised the facilitators for delivering a compelling program.

“Brian and Melissa are excellent presenters and it was clear that the content had a big impact on everyone in attendance,” Jan said.

“For mentors on our program, it’s vital that they understand the history and the importance of cultural identity amongst young indigenous people in our community. This aids their journey as a mentor, and helps create stronger bonds with our young people.”

The Gippsland Engaged Mentoring program is a volunteer mentoring program that connects young people in need with an adult mentor to provide support and companionship. Uniting Care, DELWP and East Gippsland Water encourage their employees to participate in the program and give back to the East Gippsland community.

PICTURED: A ‘Cultural Journey’ workshop centered on Gunaikurnai stories and history was delivered in Bairnsdale recently, with 37 mentors from East Gippsland businesses and community groups attending.


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