NAIDOC WEEK at Rumbalara

NAIDOC Week at Rumbalara will be marked by many events. The theme of NAIDOC Week 20174 is Our Languages Matter. In this article, we take a look at the Yorta Yorta language and Rumbalara’s events.


NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces. For indigenous peoples, “the cornerstone of our culture is storytelling. Now whether that’s through dreamtime yarns, music, song, dance or art it all connects us and language, Indigenous language, connects all of those things.”

The Yorta Yorta are an indigenous Australian people who have traditionally inhabited the area surrounding the junction of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers in present-day north-eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales. The Yorta Yorta comprises a number of separate family groups, which include the Bangerang, Kailtheban, Wollithiga, Moira, Ulupna, Kwat Kwat, Yalaba Yalaba, and Ngurai-illiam-wurrung. Their language is the Yorta Yorta language.


 Australian Flag and Native Flags flying at Somme Barracks, Shepparton


In the Goulburn Murray Region, Yorta Yorta is our traditional language. The language has been considered dormant due to European settlement and the forcible removal of local Aborigines to the missions. Despite this, in recent years there have been efforts to reconstruct and relearn the language through various activities. Primarily amongst these has been the work of two local Yorta Yorta women, Lois Peeler and Sharon Atkinson, who worked with Monash University’s, Doctor Heather Bowe, to complete a project that puts together a record of Yorta Yorta research material. The work is entitled, “Yorta Yorta Language Heritage.” The work of these people provides us with a compilation of existing records. It also includes introductory lessons in Yorta Yorta as well as the provision of English to Yorta Yorta and Yorta Yorta to English dictionaries. One of our local Shepparton schools, the Gowrie Street Primary School teaches Yorta Yorta Language and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as part of their Language Other Than English (L.O.T.E) subject. In doing this subject, students learn the Yorta Yorta language through a variety of means including the translating of rhymes, songs and stories from English to Yorta Yorta, and putting basic sentences together with the help of actions and gestures. The Kaiela Institute has Yalca Loitchbja (Talk ‘N Tea), the Yorta Yorta language revival program run by Sharon Atkinson. These activities are helping to ensure The Yorta Yorta language is being maintained and revived as part of all our cultural heritage.


Rumbalara continues to be active in the local, state, and national agenda of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. Through our activities we are developing new song lines, writing our own stories and creating our own history. Earlier this month the Chair of Rumbalara, Mr Josh Atkinson, and Rumbalara Chief Executive Ofwcer, Mr Lee Joachim, travelled to Townsville to represent the organisation at the Mabo Day celebrations for which Rumbalara is a sponsor. Mabo day is an important day for all indigenous Australians. This year it celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision, the landmark ruling by the High Court of Australia, in which Eddie Koiki Mabo challenged the long held notion of ‘Terra Nullius’; that Australia was a land that belonged to no one. It opened the way for the recognition of Native Title rights in Australia. It was a day of truth for all Indigenous and nonindigenous Australians, and Rumbalara was proud to be represented on such an important occasion. In Shepparton, we are making sure that our people’s past and history will not be forgotten. Two important projects are taking shape that will record our shared history and the personal history and stories of our Elders, which will be available for all of us to share for evermore. The ‘Precious Memories’ project presents videos of our Elders talking about the important things and events that happened to them in the past; their precious memories. It is a signiwcant project that records the words and recollections of our Elders lives and gives us insight into the history of our people. The second project is the production of a children’s book that uses words and illustrations to describe the history of Rumbalara. It too will be an important record for all people to read and enjoy and gain historical knowledge from. In this NAIDOC week it is important to celebrate the crucial role language plays in the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It is reassuring to know that nationwide and locally real efforts are being made to document, preserve and revitalize Indigenous Australian Languages. It is also important to know that we are writing our own history today and that the histories of those who came before us are being documented and recorded for preservation into the future.

On Sunday July 2nd, at St Brendans Church, Knight Street Shepparton, there will be the NAIDOC Week Annual Mass St Brendan’s at 11am.


Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative will celebrate NAIDOC Week and its theme of ‘Our Languages Matter’ with a range of events and activities to which everyone is invited to attend. Our week begins with a Flag Raising Ceremony and Breakfast starting at 8.00 am on Monday, 3rd of July at 20 Rumbalara Rd, Mooroopna. The breakfast and yag raising ceremony will be supported by a Welcome to Country in language, a Smoking Ceremony, Didge playing, Traditional Dancers and Guest Speakers. A Family Fun Day will be held later in the week on Thursday, July 6, from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm at 20 Rumbalara Rd, Mooroopna. The day will have Entertainment, Cultural Activities, Arts and Crafts, Kids Activities, Health Screen, Hampers and Rafyes.


 commencement of proceedings at Rumbalara

  young boys giving a dance presentation finishing with clapsticks – in a *very *cold *climate

  the flag raising at Rumbalara

Wednesday July 5 NAIDOC Dharnya Day 10am to 3pm Dharney Centre Barmah National Park. See attached flyer.

Wednesday July 5 Dungala Kaiela Oration 5-7:30 AEST.
Keynote Speaker Professor Marcia Langton
Theme: From the margins to the mainstream – Indigenous Recovery in Rural Australia






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