On June 11th, folks gathered at the Museum of Contemporary Arts Australia to listen to First Nations Bidwill youth at the FUNPARK Mount Druitt Press Conference.

 Speakers (from left to right), Brittney Higgison, Riana, Safia Nicol and Maddison Jackson, held a conversation around their stories and perspectives, facilitated by Aboriginal Mount Druitt local, Steven Trist (in the middle). They spoke about growing up in Mount Druitt, what it’s like as a young Aboriginal person navigating through the barriers and issues in their community, and reflecting on what there is to change. To start the event, we had a very special Welcome by Uncle Greg Simms and a Smoking Ceremony by Uncle Wes Marne.

In the lead up to this event, the speakers attended a series of workshops led by Mount Druitt Elder Uncle Greg Simms and Steven Trist. These workshops provided them with the time and space to reflect on our community and its issues and propose meaningful solutions to fix them that fundamentally challenge our society. 

The speakers spoke at length about their desire for a cultural centre in Bidwill, a place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come in and learn more about Country, culture and history. Not just the white side of history, but, as Brittney stated, “our history.” They mentioned ensuring there was nursery space for parents as well as a space for young people who often don’t have places to go outside of school or their homes. They also spoke at length about the importance of listening to Elders, and we had the privilege to also listen to Uncle Greg and Uncle Wes respond to these young leaders during the conversation. As Uncle Wes said during the talk, “you can’t learn culture out of a book.” The speakers’ proposed cultural centre would give both First Nations and Settler Australians learn about culture from people rather than theory. 

“There’s many different leaders at all different age groups,” as Riana said, and it was amazing to hear these young leaders and Elders speak together at this event.

This is only the start! The speakers will be coming together again to speak at Chifley college Bidwill Campus, and will be at the FUNPARK Festival on September 25th! Make sure you save the date! You can follow the FUNPARK Facebook page and Instagram for day to day updates.

If you missed their talk, or would like to hear it again, the live-streamed conversation is available online! It is available on the MCA website on the Digital Aboriginal Embassy. Click the link here, and scroll down to June 11th to watch the whole conversation, including audience questions. English captions are available.

Thank you again to  Brittney, Riana, Safia and Maddison, as well as Steven, Uncle Greg and Uncle Wes, for sharing your thoughtful perspectives and stories with us. This is only the start! 

All workshop photos were taken by Sivani Yaddanapudi. All photos taken for the Mount Druitt Press Conference: First Nations Voices, MCA Late, 11 June 2020 where photographed by Jacquie Manning.

This project is proudly supported by COMPACT Alliance, Create NSW and Australian Council for the Arts. The FUNPARK Coalition includes CuriousWorks, PYT Fairfield, Blacktown Arts, Learning Ground and Bidwill Uniting.