Dancing their way together
A SHARING of culture, music, dance and community will be the aim of a new space to be established in Emerald's Botanic Gardens next month.
Nadine Payne, Community Manager for West Region with Central Queensland Indigenous Development (CQID) Emerald, said a cultural dance program had been allocated a space by Central Highlands Regional Council and dates were now being finalised for the free event.
She said staff from CQID - including Andrew Doyle who will teach dance and Fabian Parsons who will teach the didgeridoo - would work with locals of all ages about Indigenous music and culture.
"We want to get an Emerald dance group up and running in time for NAIDOC Week in July.”
Ms Payne said the dance group would be able to perform during NAIDOC Week, and would then continue to meet for the rest of the year.
"We're hoping it will continue as a social circle as well, and anyone from the community can contribute.
"People might have their own dances they want to share - it's about sharing and dances from everywhere.
"The idea is to bring everyone together and give them common ground to connect in a cultural space.”
She said non-Indigenous locals were welcome to share in the culture of Indigenous people from the area as part of a "positive space” which would also include women's and men's yarning circles.
"It will be about learning and healing in a cultural space.”
Ms Payne said she hoped the group would provide a new activity for young people to take part in.
"Culturally this can be something they can be proud of. It's about the social aspect and it's showing kids that there's things you can do that don't have alcohol and drugs involved.
"It's learning a new skill with your mates, or growing on an existing skill and showcasing it.”
She said the program would aim to provide mentorship for younger participants and leadership for older members, while also focusing on improving the mental health of people across the region.
Many youth, she said, had been "touched by suicide in one way or another” and the new activity could give young people something "fun” that they could look forward to each week.
"I believe we have one of the highest youth suicide rates in Australia, but also one of the lowest in diagnoses for mental health.”
Fabian Parsons, community development practitioner for West Region- which covers from Woorabinda to Longreach - said he was looking forward to teaching adults and children how to "make some sounds” with the didgeridoo.
"It's about helping Indigenous locals share their culture, and it would be good to see non-Indigenous people come down as well.”
He said he hoped the new activity would promote understanding in the community as well as appreciation of the ability for people to share their backgrounds, cultures and traditions.
"Lots of local traditions have been nearly lost, and we want to embrace and revive them and make sure they don't get lost.
"Come and learn a bit about the Aboriginal culture and learn about how we like sharing it.”
"We're living in a multi-cultural country and this is a culture that is still living and still ongoing.
"We're all about sharing our culture and letting people know about our culture and our traditions, our art and our stories.”
He said teaching others about his culture was "100% enjoyment”.
"We've gone into schools and the parents have come up to us afterwards because the kids have come home and said they want to get a didgeridoo or a boomerang.
"And that makes it all worthwhile.”
Check the CQID Facebook page or website for updates and further details.