by Dr. Robbie Lloyd
Being forced to stay home has created many new opportunities for workers, families and relationships between people, pets and neighbours. Sadly, it has also created an increase in domestic and family violence, when some people under pressure have ended up taking it out on their loved ones.
Tracking daily media and social media reports, it seems many of us have appreciated a change to the routines of work and family life. Connecting with each other differently, and seeing our homes and neighbourhoods in a more fond way, not just where exist before and after going to work and school.
One lesson presented here as we “Come through COVID” is to intentionally Connect to Country, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like to express it. Do you know the story of the country where you live? Have you asked around to find out from local First People what Culture, Country and Spirit has to tell you about your place?
There is a lot of talk about the “Spirit of Place” in Indigenous tourism promotion, and that’s something to explore as a rich part of our shared heritage in all parts of Australia, whether urban, regional, rural or remote.
But we also share a direct relationship to the places where we live that can be much more intentionally explored by “Connecting with Country”. The 2021 Elder Australian of the Year, Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann from Nauiyu (Daly River) in the Northern Territory, has taught us that by practicing deep listening we can learn from the connecting to country. Her concept of “Dadirri – Sit, wait and listen to the spirit in country” is possible to exercise everywhere.
To explore more of Miriam’s teaching and to support her work, visit the Miriam Rose Foundation at: https://www.miriamrosefoundation.org.au/.
It behoves us all to know our local Traditional Owners and pay respects to them for allowing us to live on their country. This is an ancient practice, to wait at the border of someone else’s country until they have given us a “Welcome to Country” to allow us to come through.
If you don’t know your local traditional owners, you can check out the details through the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs website: https://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/ and start your own journey of connecting to country and the spirit of the place where you live. And to go the next level and explore what some Indigenous leaders are asking all Australians to consider doing, to acknowledge their original ownership and ongoing custodianship of our land, explore the Uluru Statement from the Heart website: https://ulurustatement.org/.
Dr. Robbie Lloyd is a Research and Project Officer at the Justice and Peace Office.