News July 2012

Identity – lost and found

Adversity is part of our lives. We are confronted daily with minor – and some days with major – challenges of different degrees or extent. We react in various ways – and depending on our reaction we influence the outcome and expectation of the next event, the next part, the next step.

Family was a very important part of traditional indigenous life and this has not changed. Family is the source of all knowledge about Indigenous life and history. This knowledge is passed on to each new generation, just as it has been for centuries.

Passing on our knowledge to the next generation, our children, or not, as it is often the case, has stark outcomes. Children who grow up with the knowledge of their heritage, the peace that comes from the stability of their ancestors and the security of a well-known tradition, exude a confidence and seem to be prepared for all kinds of diversity and adversity that comes their way. A generation who is denied those privileges wanders seemingly aimless and without knowing where to turn to in difficult situations, leaving them like seeds floating through air. The bond that is created by generational knowledge is like a security rope that prevents us from falling when we lose our balance while at the same time enabling us to have the confidence to step outside our comfort zone knowing that this ‘rope’ is there to catch us.

The identity, robbed from generations of indigenous children in Australia, is slowly being restored. Dance, art and music are ways indigenous people in towns and cities can stay connected to their unique heritage. It allows people to learn about the dreamtime, ancestors and families, their sacred sites and stories.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are both symbols that allow Australian Indigenous people to maintain their identity. The flags represent identity, unity and pride amongst indigenous groups. The Aboriginal flag was flown for the first time on the 12th of July back in 1971 in Victoria Square, Adelaide, South Australia. The Torres Strait Islander flag was first flown in May 1992, just before the High Court of Australia recognized continuous indigenous rights to the land in the historic ‘Mabo’ decision.

The outcome for those with an understanding of the historical events that have taken place within their race is a calmness for a generation that otherwise carries anger and resentment for the adversities they have suffered. This understanding, drawn from the Elders, gives them the desire to learn and understand more of the past, and in turn enables them to re-build this knowledge, this security of background and tradition in their children, thus playing a vital role in creating a strong, confident future generation.

‘Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.’ (Maria Robinson, Author)


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