Our youth rise to the occasion

August 23, 2023

After months of preparations and rehearsals, the day had arrived. It was Friday 4th of August on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day and the scene was set for what would be a momentous and proud day for the Taungurung Nation. It was the launch of Wayilak Bayubarring (Taungurung’s inaugural Youth Advisory Group) and they were set to revive a traditional dance that had not been performed for 15 years.

Sand had been shipped in to form a dance circle, hand-made intricate adornments were worn and Elders shed proud tears as they painted up the group with ochre.  As the crowd arrived and the nerves took hold for the group, the rains came…. but that didn’t stop them. Up went the umbrellas and the show went on.

Aunty Joanne Honeysett provided the Welcome Smoking Ceremony and Bobbie Pepper introduced the members of the group and then, queue the music and out they came.  Time seemed to stand still as they performed the Emu, the Swan and the men did the Bundjil. Aunty Joanne said, “Three Waa’s (the Crow – one of the Taungurung moieties) were spotted watching the youth as they reawakened our traditional dance.” It didn’t matter where you looked – everyone was overcome with emotion, filled with pride, awe and tears of joy.

Bobbie, who heads up Wayilak Bayubarring is keen to see the positive momentum of this group continue and issued a call to action for everyone in attendance: “When you have unwavering commitment and support you are unstoppable, so I ask you all to think how you can support this youth advisory group. For our mob here today, it is an invitation and a demonstration that they are ready for your cultural knowledge and open to anything you would like to offer. For everyone else it is a warm welcome into our space and to get to know every member of Wayilak Bayubarring and listen and share in collaboration.”

After the event, the youth members reflected and spoke of their love and respect for each other and their Connection to Country getting stronger through the activities of this advisory group which also strengthens their wellbeing and identity.

Final words from Bobbie on the day sum up what everyone in attendance felt: “You are brave, you are courageous, and you are just bloody deadly.”

It’s Jonah’s strong upbringing and sense of cultural identity that has inspired him to work for his mob and be part of the next wave of Taungurung people passionately protecting Taungurung culture. He works both as Field Services Officer completing cultural surveys and a wawa biik Cultural Tour Guide educating people about his culture - head to our bio to read his reflections. 

Ashley Wilkinson is a proud Taungurung man of the Yeerum-Illiam-Balluk clan, which is below the Benalla and Mansfield area. Ash works as a Field Service Officer conducting cultural surveys and is also a wawa biik guide. We yarn with Ash to learn more about his perspectives regarding cultural heritage. It’s well worth pulling him aside for a yarn on our wawa biik tours too as he’s got some great insights to share. Head to our bio to read this blog. 

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