Teaching young people about traditional bush foods and medicine is just one part of the Banatjarl Strongbala Wimun Grup’s vision for the Jawoyn community.
The Jawoyn Association formed the group in 2003 to give Jawoyn women a voice and network to address issues of concern to Aboriginal women.
The women wanted to keep culture strong and nurture cultural revitalisation, support families, reduce violence and offer aged and youth programs.
It included women from communities from Katherine to Bulman and Weemol, and was guided by the Jawoyn Council of Elders.
They built a Family Healing and Culture Centre at the Banatjarl homelands, also known as King Valley, to provide a place for families and young mothers to attend healing camps.
They also established a bush medicine and tucker garden to harvest, process and distribute bush medicine and foods.
It gave older custodians the chance to share valuable ancient knowledge and skills, and to reconnect younger people with country.
The group no longer has a full-time coordinator, but thanks to support from Flinders University, Smith Family and Mimi Arts, as well as volunteers Maddy Bower and Boronia Saggers, the group continues to fulfil the vision of their elders.
The Tijimbat Picinini Kaltja program is helping Banatjarl’s Chiyo Andrews, Jocelyn McCartney, Rosemary Carey, Betty Berry and Kate King to focus on teaching language and culture at Barunga School.
The group also ran the successful stall at Barunga Festival last year to share their knowledge of bush medicine and weaving, and to raise funds through offering damper, bush tea, Jirr (Bush Lemon Grass) and Marangmarang (Bush Vicks) medicine.
With support from NT Health, the group are planning a five day Strongbala Wimun’s camp for young mothers.
The passing of an important elder last year was strongly felt by the Banatjarl women and they wish to acknowledge the leadership, strong vision and big heart of this amazing woman.
She will always be remembered, and the group says it will try its best to continue her work into the future.