Q. Is Balaangala an Aboriginal Organisation?
A. No. Most of the day to day running of the group is done by non-First Nations people. We believe it’s important for non-First Nations people to do the work of educating themselves and others about the real history of this nation and how colonisation has impacted and continues to impact the lives of First Nation people and communities. We do have connections with many Elders, custodians and community members that support Balaangala by attending our events, offer guidance, provide Welcome to or Acknowledgment of Country, run workshops and speak at events.
Q. Can Balaangala help with cultural information?
A. Any request about culture should be directed to First Nations people – Elders, community members or cultural workers.
Q. Can Balaangala help with my school/TAFE/University assignment?
A. We are a small organisation and all members are involved in a voluntary capacity so we are not able to respond to the many individual requests we receive. However, everyone is welcome to attend the activities, workshops and guest speaker events we organise throughout the year. Just email the secretary and asked to be placed on our events email list.
Q. Can Balaangala help us develop a bush tucker garden?
A. Maybe. The Balaangala Garden (98 Yoorala St, The Gap) is filled with plants used by First Nation peoples for food, fibre, medicine and tools. The garden is always open so you can wander through to see what plants might go well in your space. If you want to include First Nations knowledges in your garden you will need to engage with a local custodian to seek advice and permission.
Q. Where can we get native plants?
A. Many of our plants come from S.O.W.N. (members have access to free trees) or Paten Park Native Nursery – both co-located in Paten Rd, The Gap.
Q. Can someone from Balaangala do a Welcome to Country for our event?
A. No. Welcome to Country is performed only by a local Custodian so you would need to contact them directly. It is an important cultural protocol and you will need to pay for this service. We may be able to give you contact details for an appropriate person, depending on where you are located.
Q. Can Balaangala provide someone to do an Acknowledgment of Country?
A. Maybe. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with this request. The more notice you give, the more likely we will be able to connect you with someone. For small events, meetings etc, it is acceptable for anyone to do an Acknowledgment as long as it is done in a respectful and sincere way. Examples can be found at the Reconciliation Australia website.
Q. We are in Brisbane, what Aboriginal Country are we on?
A. Brisbane is contested Country. Balaangala acknowledges all the custodians with connections to the Yuggera Language Nation and the different connected clans – Jagera, Yerongpan, Yugarabul, Turrbul.
When Europeans came to Brisbane local First Nation peoples were forced to leave, dispersed to different parts of the State. Despite this forced separation from Country, the Native Title process insists on people being able to prove an unbroken connection to a place. So when different family/clan groups applied for Native Title over Brisbane, none of them were successful in the eyes of the law. However, there are groups that know their family or clan’s stories and connections to the area of Brisbane, and Balaangala respects that knowledge and their connections to this land.
Q. We want to include Aboriginal language in our school/kindy/garden project. Can you help?
A. No. Cultural knowledge can only be shared by First Nations people. Understanding our history is very important if you want to work respectfully with First Nations people and this is especially relevant in regard to using Aboriginal languages.
At the time of colonization, over 300 languages were spoken across the country, but the invaders prevented and even jailed First Nation people for speaking their language. Currently First Nations people across the Country are working hard to revive their language. So before asking for language words, please consider the following –
* language belongs to Country – when on Country, the language of that Country is spoken/taught.
* many First Nation people are living off Country, so the language they know may not be the language that belongs to your area
* some First Nation people have not had the opportunity to learn their language or are only just beginning to learn
* some First Nation people/groups want to share their language with non-First Nations people while others want to ensure their family learns language before non-First Nations people “take it again”.
So it’s important NOT to make assumptions about what First Nations people know or don’t know and what they want to share or not share.
One thing you can do is to learn about our shared history and how that has impacted on the languages of this nation, rather than wanting to be given some words to use for your project. Getting to know people, building trust and relationships is very important.
Q. We’d like a local Elder to come to our school/kindy/workplace. Can you give us someone’s contact details?
A. Possibly. A “local Elder” may be a First Nations Elder who lives in your area, but they may not be a local custodian. If an Elder is living off-Country, (not the Country of their ancestors) they may be interested in meeting with you, and sharing their family or Country’s stories, but they will not be able to share stories, art or songs belonging to the Country you are on. It’s important to recognize the difference and not put Elders in an uncomfortable position.
Elders are very busy people and often have responsibilities to family and community, so it may be more appropriate to engage a cultural worker or consultant. Protocol also applies to cultural workers who can only share stories, songs etc from their own Country, but they can also provide more general information which can be a great way to start embedding First Nations perspectives into your school/service.
Please be aware before you invite an Elder or cultural worker to work with you, you should have a budget to pay for their services.
Below are some resources you might find useful.
Balaangala Education programme – offers excursions in the demonstration garden to early learning and child care centres, schools and other groups. First Nations cultural workers are engaged to run age-appropriate activities. Email – email@example.com
Narragunnawali – particularly useful for educators; developing Reconciliation Action Plans etc.
Reconciliation Australia – good general information about a range of topics including examples of Acknowledgment of Country.
kuril dhagun – part of State Library of Queensland – a cultural, learning and community meeting space.
Ngutana-Lui – offer excursions and incursions for educators and students.
The Dandiiri School and Community Library, Inala. The library has a comprehensive collection of resources that can be borrowed including texts, DVDs, puzzles, toys, teacher reference materials – that reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and politics.