By Andrew McKaysmith, Writer and Content Creator QLD Synod.
August 4 is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, and this year’s theme is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’.
The theme asks First Nations youth to consider what Dreaming means to their lives and identity by encouraging them to share their hopes and aspirations for the future.
Kym Korbe is a Koa and Kuku Yalanji (Wakka Wakka) woman, and she is the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Program Manager at UnitingCare Queensland.
Kym said Dreaming and a child’s future are intertwined with Eldership.
“We start with Eldership, and we move forward with their blessings; we are never separate in First Nations culture,” she said.
“It’s that continuum of forming who they might be as First Nations people and their contribution to the community to which they belong. Disenfranchisement comes when kids don’t feel they can make a trail back to their families.”
The separation of youth from Elders, family and culture continues to devastate many lives. For example, Kym said Townsville’s Cleveland Youth Detention Centre is filled with young First Nations people, and we need to be creating better culturally supportive programs for them.
Kym added that children disconnected from culture have a high risk of becoming lost as adults.
“You can see the ramifications of this in the services we provide and through family and domestic violence,” she said.
“There’s a lot of responsibility placed on communities as well, to be open to those trying to find their way back. This can only work when everyone is safe and connected to support health, education, and wellness systems that build brighter futures.”
The Uniting Church will continue to play a role in reconciliation, and an exciting new opportunity exists to walk in reconciliation with the Uniting Early Learning services.
“We should be teaching children what reconciliation looks like and what family culture looks like for First Nations peoples because if they start when they’re young, it’s not foreign to them when they get older,” said Kym.
Nikki Burns is the RAP Partner, Hospitals at UnitingCare Queensland, and a colleague of Kym’s. Nikki is also a Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba and Darug woman.
Nikki said she was hearing more and more stories of young people of First Nations and non-Indigenous backgrounds teaching culture to their families, and the positive ripple effect was reaching communities.
“You often hear about young ones coming home from school, and they’ve learnt An Acknowledgement of Country, or they’re singing The Acknowledgment Song,” she said.
“That just makes your heart burst.”
Nikki and Kym agree that family was critical to the future of First Nations youth, but the definition of family isn’t limited to blood relations, as kinship is an integral aspect of culture.
“As Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, we look at it as a continuum. Our young people are our future ancestors; they are our emerging elders, who begin their learning at an early age,” said Kym.
“The theme of ‘My Dreaming, My Future’, is circular and endless.”
Kym added the words of Uncle Eric Law, whom she spent time with during a recent visit to the Ration Shed Museum at Cherbourg.
“It always comes back to faith and family, which are spirit, culture and language.”
Learn more about National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day here.