In a circle of adults, children, and babies still in their prams, an Aboriginal woman holding a bright green children’s book sat on a hay bale and began reading about the history of marngrook.
The shed in the western Victorian town of Horsham fell silent and all eyes focused on Diana “Titta” Secombe, or Auntie Titta as she is known in her community.
“Everybody was just quiet and took it all in, and were just listening,” said Christina Secombe, a Koori engagement officer for Koori Court.
“Especially the little kids, they are so fascinated with the possum skin and the fur because they get to feel it and it’s calming to them. They want to pass it around and share it.
The book, published about a decade ago, explained the origins of marngrook, a traditional form of Australian rules football first played at the foot of the Grampians or Gariwerd in western Victoria.
Auntie Titta, a proud Gunditjmara and Jadawadjali woman, said she enjoyed doing readings like these for the community because it was giving back lost history, especially among children.
“You’re better going through the little kids to pass these histories on rather than shoving it in older kids’ or elders’ faces, whereas [at] a kid’s level it’s an enjoyment,” she said.
“It’s not to have a dig at anybody else or whatever, it’s just to get the true history out — where it actually come from, who started it, and how the shape of the ball came about — and the best way was short and sweet for the kids to see.”
A bigger purpose
After the reading, children and adults played a game of marngrook with a possum skin ball, threw boomerangs, learned traditional dances, petted native animals, and enjoyed crocodile sausages.
While it was fun-filled family event, Ms Secombe said she had a bigger goal in mind, based on her experience working with people who end up in Koori Court.
She had also invited local employers including Victoria Police, SES, CFA, and GWM Water to the last day of NAIDOC activities.
She said it was important to inspire young people to find purpose in life and see how they could become involved in their community to avoid ending up in the justice system.
“Especially with the younger kids, who might be going through a hard time with their family or whatever, they can see that there are employment opportunities here and you can volunteer for the firies or SES,” Ms Secombe said.
“I can be a policeman, I can be a firey … and this is what this event is all about.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC