On Wednesday 19 October a small but lively group of members met at the Nepean Rowing Club for the Annual Penrith-Blue Mountains Women’s forum. This was the fourth forum to be held there and the IEU thanks IEU Executive member Patricia Murnane for her assistance in organising these events.
This year the forum was lead by the very capable and inspiring IEU Council member, Debbie Long (pictured). Debbie is a teacher at the Jarara Aboriginal Unit at Mount Druitt and works closely with Aboriginal children and staff in the CEO Parramatta schools.
We arrived to find beautiful Aboriginal artwork decorating the room and participants being asked to sit in a circle as Debbie spoke to us about Yarning Circles and the significance of them in her upbringing in Dubbo and Bourke. Debbie is a proud Kamilaroi and Ngemba woman and she shared with us her experiences of growing up and moving from Sydney to the north west of NSW, before settling in Dubbo with her family.
Debbie also showed us a special stick that was the ‘Talking Stick’ because in the Yarning Circle you can only speak if you hold the stick. She also recounted to us how an aunty might ‘tap’ her on the head with the stick if she spoke out of turn or too often! Debbie happily shared how significant her family and country are to her, including the reunion this year at which more than 50 of her first cousins attended!
The evening was awe inspiring and I would encourage anyone to hear Debbie speak as you will learn so much about her culture. Thank you for allowing us a small glimpse into your world Debbie, it was truly remarkable.