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These Aboriginal Elders are making a huge difference in their community by acknowledging the pivotal role grandparents play in society.
Laura Morelli

11 Nov 2016 - 10:03 AM  UPDATED 11 Nov 2016 - 10:05 AM

More than 50 grandparents, some accompanied by their grandchildren, have come together to celebrate their role as grandmothers and grandfathers in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation directors Jenni Ebsworth, DaisyBarker, Margaret Farrell launched their first ever event for Grandparents, whereby people were able to hear acknowledge the important role grandparents play in society.

Director Jenni Ebsworth says it’s important that people can honour all our wonderful Aboriginal Grandparents in Mount Druitt.

“The purpose of the event was about getting people together, yarning and making people feel comforabtle and acknowledginf that grandparents play a huge role in society, especially for the Aboriginal community,” Jenni said.

Grandparents were treated to guest entertainers such as Indigenous artist Uncle Cole Hardy, who sang and played the guitar.

There was an unique but meaningful acknowledgment, where guest students from the local high school let their elders sit back and relax while they did the work.

“We wanted to reverse the roles whereby the children were able to welcome their elders to the country, this is meaningful because it shows how the next generation take on the teachings from their ancestors.

Students also performed a traditional Aboriginal dance and everyone was treated to a very delicious but meaningful slice of desert.

“We decided to have a grandparents cake in honour of most senior elders, 80-year-old Harold Arnstine and 70-year-old Mavis Pavey, who blew out the candles and cut it.”

Grandmother of 11, Elaine Gordon, says it was nice to be on the other end of things, as often Grandparents give so much but rarely get anything given back to them.

“I felt very special, to have something just for us and I think grandparents should be honoured more often, they’re very special people, we give a lot to our community, we’re wise and have so much to offer and should be made to feel extra special.”

Elaine is the primary carer for four of her grandkids aged between 7-11. She says at the age of 68, it’s a really difficult task which is why events like these are vital.

Baabayn = Ancestoral Woman

“I can’t wait for the next event, I really love gatherings where you can get out of the house and meet other people and meet up with others you haven’t seen for ages.”

Baabayn started five years ago by a group of Indigenous women who were part of groups through the catholic ministries. Jenni says soon after, they decided it was time they created an Indigenous-led project.

“We wanted to run our own group with our own people so we decided to make this a cooperation.”

For Margaret Farrell this group was something she wished was available whilst growing up.

Like several other Aboriginal families, Margaret was from the Stolen Generations and her family didn’t get the support that they needed.

“I think we’ve come along way from what’s happening in the past to us, theres more recognition and more help you can tap into, lots of organisations that can linkup to our families. Now people can find out where they’re from and meet their brothers and sisters.” 

Mt Druitt has a large Indigneous population and Margaret believes weekly events like the ones Baabyon holds need to continue.

“It’s important for all leaders and people in the community to come together and see what we do at our centre and have a yarn and a cup of tea.”

From arts and crafts to crocheting dolls and blankets the centre is a place where people can really relax and connect with their culture and the people in their environment.

“I think it’s really about connecting with community, talking about issues and whats going on around us. It’s a place where everyone supports us,” Margaret said.

Jenni says Baabayn holds regular events with a family comes first focus where people from different walks of life can be brought together.

“whether it be husband and wife or women and sisters, we have activities and prevention programs where people can share a meal and we ensure mothers, fathers and children can get out of isolation,” Jenni said.

“It’s been a wonderful response from the community, we always have people coming with an interest in what were doing for the community.”

Last year Baabayn hosted the “Say no to Ice day” an event that saw 1200 people attend and get involved in a matter that affects people from all communities.

This year they’ll be hosting the same event at Mt Druitt swimming pool. An ideal location for summer time and a nice place for families to participate and also have a splash or two.

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