Inspiring young Narrabri locals to develop their Aboriginal cultural identity

Young people in Narrabri are growing their Aboriginal cultural identity through dance and song, and improve their well-being, thanks to the Kamilaroi Dance Group, started in 2017.

About 40 Aboriginal children, from infants through to High School students, participate in the Kamilaroi Dance Group, which received a $11,600 grant from the Gomeroi Narrabri People Charitable Trust Fund. The Fund was created in 2017 after Narrabri Coal, a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal, entered into a Native Title agreement with the Gomeroi Narrabri People.

The dance group meets monthly and regularly performs throughout the Narrabri Shire and surrounding areas, including at NAIDOC functions, presentation nights, and at local events. Thanks to the grant, the group has been able to purchase materials to dance in culturally appropriate dress and painting, and a PA system to play music during performances. The funding also supports continuing education programs in language and culture at Narrabri Public School, by facilitating the purchase of cultural resources such as books and videos.

Independent Chair of Gomeroi Narrabri People Charitable Trust Fund Ross Gleeson said he was pleased to be able to help inspire more local young people to develop their cultural identity.

“With Whitehaven’s support, we’re pleased to be able to continue to invest in a range of activities that will help ensure our young people stay connected to their heritage,” he said.

Patti Lettice, an Aboriginal Education Assistant at Narrabri Public School who was named Narrabri’s 2019 Citizen of the Year for her work with young people, education and community – including founding the dance group – said it’s just one example of the local Aboriginal community working in partnership with Whitehaven Coal.

“Activities like the dance group provide a great basis to grow Aboriginal children’s cultural identity, and it supports their wellbeing too,” said Patti.

“Not only are we able to help grow young people’s connection to their culture and heritage with these types of programs supported by Whitehaven; the employment opportunities the mines provide are actually bringing families back to the area.

“It’s great that families and young people don’t have to move away to obtain work now thanks to Whitehaven’s effort to attract Indigenous employees.

“Mining is bringing real benefits to the local Aboriginal community at Narrabri with employment, educational and cultural heritage programs great examples of what can be achieved in meaningful partnerships.”

Image: Patti Lettice, her husband, son Noel and members of the Kamilaroi Dance Group.