2023 ‘Indigenous Recognition’ Category Winner

Mount Alexander Shire Council, VIC

Boorp Boorp Boondyil: Sharing Knowledge with Children

The Initiative

Ten years in the making, Boorp Boorp Boondyil (which in the language of the Jaara people in central Victoria loosely translates as “sharing knowledge with children”) is the brainchild of Uncle Brien Nelson, and was taken up by his son Uncle Rick upon his passing. It is the manifestation of a dream of a permanent space in Castlemaine which could teach not just the young, but all locals and visitors, the story of the Jaara, or Dja Dja Wurrung, peoples both past and present.

Uncle Rick collaborated with Mount Alexander Shire Council and SharingStories Foundation, an aboriginal-led organisation, to design, develop and install the exhibition in Castlemaine’s historic Market Building. This location brings together Jaara and colonial history in one place, another step towards Reconciliation, for which Uncle Rick has a particular passion.

Council secured funding from the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund for the design and build, then took a crucial, innovative step. While engaging with the local aboriginal community, a decision was made that this could not be a Council-led project, with consultation’ provided by Aboriginal people. Rather, it needed to be Aboriginal-led. As a result, Uncle Rick was hired by Council as Project Lead.

This exhibition is, as a result, a truly Aboriginal one; the product of self-determination by the Aboriginal community of the shire, and is in keeping with Council’s Reconciliation Plan.

The exhibition, now completed, features beautiful physical renderings of Jaara culture, artworks made by local and aboriginal artists, and innovative interactive displays. These beautiful displays feature Uncle Rick discussing bush tucker, local culture, language and the Jaara creation story of the eagle, the bat and the crow, told by Uncle Rick and delightfully illustrated by the kids.

Now several months into operation, the exhibition has become a highlight, attracting new visitors to the Visitor Information Centre based in the Market Building, allowing for school excursions run by Nalderun Aboriginal Education Corporation, and providing a point of pride for the local Aboriginal community.

It is an enormous success and a testament to Mount Alexander Shire Council’s commitment to reconciliation and self-determination.

Photo of the interior of the Boorp Boorp Boondyil exhibition. Photo credit: Mount Alexander Shire Council, VIC.

About the Category

The ‘Indigenous Recognition’ category recognises Indigenous initiatives and employees in local government which:

  • achieve representation of Indigenous people in their community and inform local government activities and policies;
  • overcome inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through community-based policies and programs that are done in partnership with local Indigenous people;
  • have explicit Indigenous employment goals, strategies and support mechanisms such as Indigenous cadetship programs, mentoring and cultural awareness initiatives; and/or
  • have an outstanding Indigenous employee who is making a difference to their community and workplace by delivering high quality initiatives and outcomes.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and communities to share skills and experiences;
  • undertaking initiatives that reinforce, strengthen, and promote Indigenous culture, traditions and languages;
  • raising awareness and understanding of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and culture; and/or
  • building positive and productive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through policies and programs.

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