ELDERS from the region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities gathered at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation last week to discuss how to strengthen relationships and improve key service provision.
The inaugural Elders Yarning Circle attracted 14 elders who discussed a broad range of issues and opportunities affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a focus on greater social connectivity through events a key talking point.
It was the first time the elders had gathered since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared with Elder Aunty Val Brennan saying the meeting allowed leaders to provide support to one another.
“We elders do not get to come together very often with the only time really being NAIDOC Week,” Aunty Val said.
“It is important for us to come together and support each other and have a yarn about this and that because as we get older we like to do that.
“It gave us a chance to share our stories because a lot of us who live here come from different parts of the state and now we are able to share what has happened in different areas, let us get to know each other and strengthen our connections to each other and the community.”
Aunty Val said it was critical for elders to meet, enabling further healing from their past.
“It is good to talk about the little things that have happened in our lives because it helps us heal from them and allows us to help one another,” she said.
“It is important for us to gather every so often.”
She said since the COVID-19 pandemic started many elders were not able to see one another and were grateful restrictions had lifted.
“The program allowed us all to have our input on what we would like to do and just share our stories and have a chat together,” she said.
“It just allows us to get out and visit one another.”
Pangula Mannamurna acting organisational services manager Gilbert Rigney said the idea was initially discussed between management and the session also allowed elders to speak on what they would enjoy within the organisation in the future.
“The biggest reason for the meeting was to allow our elders the opportunity to get together, have a chat and see each other and tell stories especially through this hard time of COVID-19,” Mr Rigney said.
“Although many live within the same town they have not been able to see each other as much lately because of the virus or the fears of leaving their home.”
He said Pangula Mannamurna would investigate what could be achieved for the elders based around the organisation’s budget before implementing further activities.
“It was also great to sit back and see the elders come together for the event,” he said.
“We also gave them to opportunity to say something about their background and culture and although most knew each other there were a few who did not.
“The meeting really gave the elders the opportunity to have a voice and it gave them a sense of empowerment and ownership.”
The meetings will be held monthly at Pangula Mannamurna.