A visit to the beautiful FNQ Aboriginal community of Yarrabah was the major highlight of Rork Projects’ two-day national conference held recently in Cairns on 15-16 August.
The purpose of the community visit was to assist all staff in gaining a greater understanding and awareness of Indigenous cultures, peoples and histories.
For many of the Rork Projects’ 64 staff, the day was their first visit to an Aboriginal community.
The visit was co-ordinated in partnership the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct and included interaction with several prominent Yarrabah identities and businesses.
On arrival staff we were warmly welcomed by Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews and then treated to a range of activities across the community. These included a cultural tour with Gunggandji Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC’s Senior Ranger Daryl Murgha and Ranger Coordinator, Brian Murgha.
Staff also enjoyed learning more about traditional arts and crafts with a 90-minute workshop on the property of award-winning artist Elverina Johnson – who runs Paper Bark Exclusive Arts and Cultural Tours.
The day concluded with an amazing BBQ lunch organised through the Yarrabah Bakery and a special traditional dance performance featuring some of the children of the community co-ordinated by Yarrabah language teacher Nathan Schrieber.
Staff also had the opportunity to wonder through the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct and also the Yarrabah Menmuny Museum to learn more about the history of Yarrabah and to also see the art and artefacts on exhibition from many of local artists.
For Rork Project Co-Owners Brian O’Rourke and John Paul Janke, the visit to Yarrabah was an enriching experience for their staff that they believe not only strenghtens the company but also the wider community.
“Being so warmly welcomed into Yarrabah and having the opportunity to join them to celebrate and share culture has enable our t – am to learn more first-hand about the oldest continuing culture on the planet – and that’s something that enriches them personally and how they engage with the wider community.”
Staff comments about the day ranged from:
“I learnt more about Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal contribution to the world through your ancient inventions and ‘technology’ in one day, than I have in 6 years on Australian soil.
“I basically felt like we were welcomed into their family. It was like the two groups had known each other for years!”
“Loved the experience and would hope this is something we can continue in the future.”
“I found the weaving and beading ladies to be very warm and inviting. We had a few laughs with them and also learned that the local vegetation has many uses (food, shelter, weapons).
A huge thanks to Darryl Harris of the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct who helped us engaged with so many wonderful businesses and people as part of our visit to Yarrabah.
It’s a day that Rork Projects will never forget.