Many many years ago, a giant goanna, or ‘Wirriga’, travelled across the Blue Mountains and settled on the East-Coast of NSW. There, he began to dig his burrow however he dug too close to the water’s edge and the ocean came flooding onto the land. We now know this area as Sydney Harbour. Wirriga is the non–autonomous student society which concerns iteself with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs on campus.
This week, we are making history in this university. I cannot express in words how proud I am to see the first Indigenous edition of Honi Soit. It is my hope that this will be the first of a long list of future editions which focus on Indigenous affairs and issues while celebrating the strong culture and history of the people who have inhabited this continent for roughly 60,000 years.
During the last year the Indigenous students of the Koori Centre have taken the initiative to form the Wirriga Society. This society is about exploring and celebrating our culture openly and proudly to bring awareness into this university about our mob.
As the times have changed in this country, in many aspects, so have most people’s attitudes towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, there is still little known about our identity and connection to this land. We are one of the most studied people on Earth yet there is still a great deal of ignorance and uncertainty about many of the issues we face in our day-to-day lives. “How much Aboriginal are you?” is a common question. Although this may not seem like an issue that would antagonise a person to the extent that it does, it must also be noted that many of us hear this question and many other ignorant statements repeatedly.
The idea behind Wirriga is to educate people on areas of our culture that need to be made clear to the public. Wirriga is a great channel to do this from along with the Indigenous Festival in Week 11 of this semester. The festival will give the university community an opportunity to delve into aspects of our proud culture and celebrate Reconciliation Week with us.
So come and check it out and have a bit of a yarn with us next week.