Dream realised

“Who gets to see their dream come true?
Nanjing Night Net

“I’m living mine,” Teresa Yasserie of the Aboriginal Education Training Unit said at the unveiling of two memorial stones which she funded in a bid to get more Aboriginal people involved in sorry business, the traditional processes of dealing with death.

The memorials were placed at the Falls Road site and the old cemetery in memory of the Aboriginal families who were buried there without accurate site locations.

“I thought it was my passion but when I started everyone was thinking the same and wanted to have ownership of a significant way of honouring our family,” she said.

“In traditional times this is what we would have done. We had the right, we’ve got to get it back.

“We have started one [course] in Bourke, they come off the street some of them and it is changing their lives, making it for their mob, they’re making it their own and it is wonderful.”

At Wellington TAFE The Aboriginal Passing Program (TAPP) focused on the modelling of the two headstones with carpentry teacher Chris Woods, followed by art teacher Iris Reid teaching traditional Aboriginal art so that students could paint the monuments and create a personal and meaningful legacy.

One of the students, Alex Daley made a head stone for her uncle Henry Williams which she gave to her mother, Irene Daley.

“It was something I never thought I would do and the teacher (Chris Woods) was brilliant,” she said.

Teacher Iris Reid said that for the Falls Road site, memorial totems of the area had been used including the possum, black snake and echidna as well as the gum leaves, blossoms and wattle of the area.

She also spoke about the coffins and caskets which had been lost in floodwaters at the Falls site.

“I think there were a lot of babies’ coffins. They would have been elders; if they grew up they would have been our aunts and uncles, being picked up from the floodwaters.

“A lot of young men dived in to save the caskets.”

“It’s sad that a lot of elders’ graves are not marked in any way shape or form,” Rod Towney, manager of Aboriginal Education and Training and Western Institute of TAFE said, adding that he was proud to see what had been achieved and that the memorials were a first in Australia, if not the first.

“It’s an important part of being black, never ever deny it, grow up as a proud Australian person, see what we can do together when we talk about a cause, because working together as a group that’s the way we’re going to come forward,” he said.

Mary Henderson thanked everybody who had come on board to see the project through.

“Whether you’re black white or brindle you all have a purpose in life and if we are here for self esteem or recognition we are not going to get there, but to support our up and coming elders sitting here in their youth and recognising them for who they are that’s more valuable,” she said.

The second memorial in the Old Cemetery was placed near the grave of Mudgee Phillips and at the unveiling of the memorials, Diane McNaboe sang in Wirradjuri “come here hearing good things and talking about good things and seeing good things”.

TAFE Western is the single largest provider of Vocational Education and Training for Aboriginal people in Australia with more than 7,600 students each year. The Institute is making a reputation for itself throughout Australia and internationally for its efforts to bridge the gap in the disadvantage that Aboriginal people experience in relation to education and employment.

Currently, Iris Reid is working with a class in Dubbo on painting caskets and TAFE Western are looking for more students to take part in TAPP.

The unveiling of the Falls memorial.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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