Saving Bundjalung stories for future

Aboriginal Elder Mavis Davies (centre), who contributed to the DVD Stories from the Bundjalung, with the projects co-ordinators Rosslyn Sten (left) and Annette Olive (Lismore Councils Aboriginal community development officer).

The oral storytelling traditions of the local Bundjalung people have been captured forever on a DVD called Stories from Bundjalung.

Co-ordinated by Lismore City Council with funding from a NSW Area Assistance Scheme grant, the purpose of the DVD is to ensure that the oral tradition of Aboriginal people, seeped in values, beliefs and a sense of belonging, is heard by future generations of young Australians.

The culture of Aboriginal people is to tell their stories, not necessarily write them down, said Lismore Councils Aboriginal community development officer, Annette Olive. Today these stories are only being told to immediate family. Sadly, the older generation die and take their stories with them. This project gives other people the opportunity to hear about the hardships and struggles that Aboriginal people have endured.

Annette instigated the project with local woman Rosslyn Sten, who were both privy to a group of Bundjalung Elders talking about their childhood. Sad stories were revealed about life on missions, children being removed, the harsh rule of station managers and not being able to speak their own language.

Annette and I just sat there listening to these storytellers and even though there was a lot of sadness, it was just wonderful, said Rosslyn, and thats when we started to wonder if it was possible to get funding to record these amazing stories.

The stories are told by 14 Aboriginal men and women from the Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley areas.

This project is really important, said Rosslyn. We are losing people of significance and if we dont record these people and their stories, we will lose our culture.

The DVDs will be distributed to schools where the stories will be used as educational tools to enhance understanding of past and present Aboriginal culture.

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