(Activity at the Goompi NAIDOC Community Day)
Quandamooka Jagun ngali yadninya
(Quandamooka Country we are walking)
Jar, yarabin, biram murumba (Ground, sea, sky lovely)
Maran, bujang, Jajing (Aunty, mother, sister)
ngali binang gana (we listen and understand)
Ngali dada gubiyiyawa! (We strong will grow)
Goompi (Dunwich) Woman
In the preparations for Goompi NAIDOC I was asked by Committee member Pekeri Ruska if I could create a large sculpture of a woman’s bingi (head) to support this year’s theme “Because of her, we can”. I felt honoured to be asked to contribute to this important community event. To create a sculpture that our Jajams (children) attending Dunwich State School, Stradbroke Early Learning Centre and visiting schools could decorate, would be a wonderful way of paying homage to the women of our community.
When selecting materials, I initially thought back to the beautiful sculptural lanterns made from cane and tissue paper for the NSI Lantern and Music Festival, created by Dunwich State School and Secondary students with the support of a team of artists. However, I felt the materials for the 2018 Goompi NAIDOC sculpture needed to reflect Minjerribah more closely. It seemed important to select materials from the earth. Walking on Country, along the fire trails near my home, I chose fallen Banksia as the medium. I felt its multi-toned, intricate branches reflected the multi-faceted personalities, appearances, roles, pursuits, achievements and contributions made by the women in our lives.
While weaving together the branches to construct Goompi Woman, I found myself reflecting on all that I have learnt from the amazing women of our community, in particular our community Elders who have shared their knowledge and wisdom with such generosity. It is hard to put this learning into words, however it is so important for me to acknowledge that these women have taught me so much about Caring for Country; caring for community; traditional song and dance; language revival - “Bringing Jandai back to life”; humane health services; cultural education; social justice; activism; resourceful fund-raising and business pursuits; creative arts including the revival of weaving; love for family and incredible cooking! Importantly, I have valued and been inspired by the comradery between the women of the Quandamooka community, with their ability to laugh, sing and dance together, persevering when times are tough; as well as their visionary thinking leading the community forward.
During the construction of creating Goompi Woman I also, found myself reflecting on how lucky I have been to have the love of my grandmothers and aunties; and my wonderful mother - who was the first person to teach me about ‘the struggle’ when she studied Oodgeroo’s poetry at University.
One group I had not considered however, were our young women. It was when Pekeri arrived with Dale and Kristen, to lift Goompi Woman onto the back of Dale’s ute, that I learnt the 2018 Goompi NAIDOC committee was comprised of an amazing group of young women. Having grown up on Country these young women, some who I had the honour of teaching when they were students of Dunwich State School and Secondary Department, have pursued diverse fields of expertise: away, and on Country. Drawing on their expertise and their commitment to giving to their community, they collaborated as an amazing team to bring the community together to share this special day. Thank you!
During the 2018 Goompi NAIDOC celebrations, the sculpture, Goompi Woman was visited by many of our jajams, enabling her to be decorated with bundel (head of hair). Our SELC children came with their parents creating beautiful decorations from natural materials including raffia, palm fronds and reeds; our Year 4 students created hair from intricately knotted, coloured rafia; and our Prep jajams enjoyed creating a protective cubby beneath her hair. It was also great to have some DSS Year 5 students, and their friends attending Coolnwynpin State School, visit to add their special touches; and to work alongside Aunty Rene Clarey (Tippo), a woman who has played such an important role in my daughter’s life, to complete the sculpture.
You may now see ‘Goompi Woman’ exhibited at DSS, where our jarjams are encouraged to care for her, in the spirit of NAIDOC “Because of her, we can”.
The Goompi NAIDOC Committee would like to the thank Bernadette Mollison (Molly) for her contribution to making this beautiful piece for the 2018 Goompi NAIDOC Community Day - it was greatly appreciated.