Championing Indigenous Rights at the Port Kembla Take Care Festival

by Yvette Gilfillan

In 2012, we launched the first volume of Dreaming Inside—Voices from Junee Correctional Centre. Due to the generous support of community arts funding, six volumes have now been published and featured in Australian universities and libraries all over the world. This project started with the South Coast Writers Centre’s desire to shine a light on the Indigenous literary landscape, and to celebrate the creative expression of Aboriginal culture.

The members of our Black Wallaby Writers group run regular workshops with the Indigenous inmates of Junee Correctional Centre, encouraging them to try their hand at prose and poetry. The raw, evocative pieces that emerge give us a rare insight into the Aboriginal experience—and in turn, the inmates are given an imaginative outlet for their powerful thoughts.

The funding required to continue publishing the work of Aboriginal writers in our annual Dreaming Inside anthology, and to further the SCWC’s Indigenous Literary Program, is incredibly important. With the support of our local community, we want to leave a lasting legacy that promotes the creative and intellectual abilities of Indigenous people in New South Wales.

When Belinda Quinn and Jet Hunt offered to donate the income from the Take Care Festival to our Indigenous Literary program, we were beyond grateful. On the 28th of July, from 2 pm – 9 pm, they held the event at the Servo Food Truck Bar in Port Kembla.

If you’ve never been, it’s the coolest artsy venue, with indoor and outdoor seating. Take Care is a festival of live music, workshops, food and entertainment, where everyone is made to feel included. It promotes the art of women, gender diverse folk, and people of colour.

The event was held on the stolen lands of the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharawal nation, and as Belinda and Jet noted, this land was never ceded. Fittingly, local Wadi Wadi elder Aunty Barbara Nicholson opened the event, reclaiming the land as a space where the diversity of Aboriginal culture can be celebrated. She gave a stirring Welcome to Country address, and read an excerpt from Dreaming Inside. The audience was then treated to live music performances from Dylan Voller and Taliah King, Cry Club, Good Pash, SPORTS BRA, and ChelseyDagger, whilst fun workshops such as 'Children's Story Time with Alexander' and 'Taking Care of Each Other with Jet Hunt' ran simultaneously.

Over $1000 was raised for the Dreaming Inside project, which will go a long way towards giving Aboriginal heritage and artistry the platform it deserves. Thank you to Belinda and Jet for all their efforts! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this program at the South Coast Writers Centre.

All images courtesy of Jessica Corcoran.

Written by SCWC

Posted on September 19, 2018