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Murama Youth Summit

Newington Armoury, Sydney Olympic Park

11th – 14th November, 2019

Our youth experience the effects of intergenerational trauma without even understanding the shadows of grief we carry from the past and the impacts they cause in our lives.

Murama brings together Indigenous youth to celebrate their cultural journey, to connect them with Elders and each other and empower them to lead their schools and communities towards deeper cultural understanding and appreciation.

Murama is a resilience-based cultural intervention program which is based on the strengths of Aboriginal culture that aims to heal our communities. The program focuses on belonging, kinship and traditional values as the stepping stones in a right of passage to reweave the cultural connectedness between individuals, families, and the community.

The Murama approach aligns with The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and a methodology called Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) used successfully by our North American program partners. Murama is as much about healing the past as it is about building a better tomorrow for all Australians.

Murama Youth Gathering

The Murama Gathering is an ‘on-country’ leadership camp in the urban setting of Sydney. It brings together Indigenous youth to celebrate their cultural journey, to connect them with Elders and each other and empower them to lead their schools and communities towards deeper cultural understanding and appreciation.

Murama Youth Showcase

Emerging leaders from the Murama Youth Gathering are supported to share their cultural pride and showcase their cultural knowledge at an outdoor event open to all schools (Years 3- 6). The event focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History and Culture.

The magic of Murama Youth Summit

The unique magic of Murama is created by weaving authentic cultural learning together with supported opportunities for peer and public cultural teaching.

To date, Murama has;

  • Engaged 145 Indigenous youth from 21 high schools spanning Greater Western Sydney, Dubbo, Orange, ACT and QLD.
  • Murama youth have lead cultural programs for over 9500 people at Sydney Olympic Park.
  • Over 5000 mainstream primary students from over 44 schools impacted by Murama Leaders at the Youth Eco Summit.

My Murama Youth Summit Journey
by Thea Brailey

I first arrived at the Murama Youth Leadership camp knowing not a single person, finding comfort only in the fact that I wasn’t too far from home. Yet, from the moment I stepped into the hall with my oversized suitcase I was greeted with open arms, smiles filling the room and delicious smells trailing from the nearby kitchen. I was then given a room where I was introduced to two people that I would be sharing it with, it was their first time too. However, throughout the week beds were dragged from various rooms and many of us joined in a massive sleepover party. eds were dragged from various rooms and many of us joined in a massive sleepover party.

On Day One we had a Smoking Ceremony, it was my first. For once I wasn’t trying to avoid the smell of smoke engulfing my clothes and instead embraced the smell of the burning eucalyptus as a symbol of warding off bad spirits, acknowledging my ancestors and paying respect to the land and sea of the country. This was complemented with traditional women and male dances that I was later taught. We then joined in the hall and I once more felt overwhelmed and alone recognising now only two faces in a large crowd.

On the same day we were put into eight groups, they were our ‘families’. We each came up with a name and a cheer and within these groups worked on team building exercises until it was time to go back to our cabins. The next day I was fortunate to meet and work alongside Maria and Don who travelled all the way from America, as well as many elders who shared their stories and advice with us youth. That same day we selected our activities that we would be teaching the primary schools about in the last two days. I selected clay and sand art. For the rest of that day we prepared our activities and had free time to get to know more people. It was during this time that I befriended several people that lived in Canberra. They too were anxious upon arrival but after several rounds of cards, ping pong, pool, some good chats and some hilarious stories we felt as though we’d known each other our whole lives.

On the Wednesday, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we were up in the dining hall, eating breakfast just as the clock turned over to seven. We travelled to Olympic Park and set up our stations. Little kids came out from everywhere! I spent the day telling stories about the animals in the Billabong and crafting these animals out of clay with the children. It was a thrill to share my culture and a thrill to watch their faces light up everytime I spoke. We were all exhausted by the end of the day and most people fell asleep on the way home.

The last day ran similarly with a few different faces. We concluded with a flash mob of a traditional dance that Dons ancestors had taught him in America, and a song that was a gift for Maria that she gifted to us as well as a closing ceremony and some heartfelt speeches.
Before I attended the Murama Youth Summit, family was merely defined as those who lived in the same household or perhaps those of the same blood. However, as the fourth day came to conclude I discovered a new meaning to family.

What I saw, what I heard and what I felt on those four days was truly amazing. People from different places and different tribes were uniting because of their similar histories, their energy, their spirit and their desire to continue traditions.

Each person was different, they brought a unique personality, unique talents and a unique voice but we all worked as a team… as a family – a very deadly family. What touched me, was seeing the respect of the youth, how proud the elders were, the fact that there was always someone with a tissue box on hand and seeing the way we treated each other no matter what shade of skin that person had. Whenever someone said something or did something good we would all say “OHHH” in a loud uniting voice, or we would clap. We also learnt about worthiness. Uncle Don and Auntie Maria developed the practice of saying “you’re worthy, “I’m worthy, we’re both worthy, we’re all worthy”. And on that note I’d like to conclude with this;

This was truly an amazing experience, I was a given an opportunity to find my identity and to help others find theirs. I’ve never felt more worthy, welcome and loved and I encourage others to participate next year as there is so much, too much, to describe in this article as to just how important and life changing these four days were.

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