Newslines Radio: Alice Springs - Caring for elders
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Myra Gorey, Akeyulerre Healing Centre, Alice Springs, NT
Jane Ulrik, Akeyulerre Healing Centre, Alice Springs, NT
Agnes Abbott, Akeyulerre Healing Centre, Alice Springs, NT
This week Newslines Radio looks at an organisation in Alice Springs that is helping to close the gap in indigenous disadvantage for local elders.
The Akeyulerre Healing Centre provides local elders with a safe and healthy setting to practice their culture and traditions and pass on their knowledge to the young people of central Australia
The manager at the Akeyulerre Healing Centre, Jane Ulrik, told Newslines that the centre was a place that local elders could call their own.
“They wanted to create an environment that was safe especially where people could come, have a cup of tea, just sit down enjoy each other’s company, a place that was free of argument, free of stress.”
In this program Myra Gorey talks about the business side of the Akeyulerre Healing Centre, selling healing products to the public.
“We provide the bush medicines free to the community and we started getting interest from the wider public so we started thinking we will get better packaging so we can start selling it,” Myra says.
“It’s sort of an opportunity to learn the traditional ways as well as the modern ways of learning to run a business.”
PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Nathan Ramsay and you’re listening to Newslines Radio, an Australian Government program on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
Today we are looking at organisations in Alice Springs that are helping close the gap on indigenous disadvantage particularly for elders and our youth.
Of these organisations one is looking after the needs of local elders
The Akeyulerre Healing Centre provides local elders with a safe and healthy setting to practice their culture and traditions, pass on their knowledge to young people and help local people address the problems facing the community.
Jane Ulrik is the manager at Akeyulerre and told Newslines that it was started by a group of Arrernte elders who recognised the need for a place of healing in their community.
ULRIK: In 1999 a group of elders got together to and talked about creating a space for Aboriginal people in the region to be able to practice their culture, to be able to get recognition of the work that they do within culture and how important that is for young people’s identity in sense of place, sense of purpose.
Then in 2000 they had another meeting where they wanted to create an environment that was safe especially where people could come, have a cup of tea, just sit down enjoy each other company, a place that was free of argument, free of stress.
PRESENTER: As well as holding regular cultural and family nights, Akeyulerre is open from Monday to Thursday and each day there is something happening for elders and their families to take part in.
ULRIK: Monday is predominately around bush medicines, so the ladies will come and go collecting, they will sit and they will grind the medicine, they grind them all by hand, the young women will often come and learn and make the products and those products are divided between sales and community pots, so they will sit and do that.
On a Tuesday is elders day, we will try and go out to one of the nursing homes or bring people from the nursing homes here with families so that the family get to spend the day with them, cook up kangaroo tails, we will make a nice soft lunch for them.
Wednesday’s a bush medicine day again and Thursday is a healing day so it’s often centered around the Ngangkeres and healers having a day for themselves and a day where they can rest and recoup and go and do visits to the hospital or whatever they are going to do on that day.
PRESENTER: Akeyulerre also produces a number of healing products including bush medicine rubs, massage oils and soaps which they provide to the local community and sell to the general public.
This is important to Akeyulerre because it is not only a way of maintaining their traditional practices but gives them the chance to learn about running a business.
Myra Gorey from Santa Teresa is one of the people who looks after the business side of things.
GOREY: So we provide the bush medicines free to the community and we started getting interest from the wider public so we started thinking we will get better packaging so we can start selling it and it sort of just grew from there. It’s sort of an opportunity to learn the traditional ways as well as the modern ways of learning to run a business and all of the stuff that comes with that.
So from packaging, ordering, trying to get good recipes, from picking up the old ladies, trying to bring in younger women to help out and stuff and try and mentor them in these sorts of roles.
Right now we’ve got opportunities to grow but we keep stepping back because we don’t want to grow too quickly, I guess skilling up more young women is more important at the moment because it’s just me and one other lady but I reckon we can do well.
The old ladies from the start, they always said you should always do it the old ways so they have always taken us out bush, at the moment we are wild harvesting and come back here and crush it all by hand, I think the only difference now is use modern oils instead of animal fat.
PRESENTER: Agnes Abbott is an Arrente community elder and is one of the ladies who Myra spoke about, teaching the young women about bush medicine.
She is a regular at the centre and told Newslines it’s a great place for people to come together and heal spiritually, mentally and physically.
ABBOTT: Peace and quiet here, no noise, no people humbug here, we just sit down peaceful, we just sit down and do whatever we want to do, you know? We go out bush and bring bush medicine back that’s all we do.
ELLIS: How important is it for you and the other ladies to have a place like this?
ABBOTT: It’s very important for us sometimes we tell stories for the young ones you know, to teach the young ones, sometimes we go out bush camping, might be for one week teach the ones culture, teach them bush medicine, singing, teach them body paint.
Show them around country, tell them stories about country, you know this is my country out there. I teach all the young girls how to make bush medicine, they know how to do it now, they learn from us, now they are selling bush medicine everywhere.
PRESENTER: That was Myra Gorey from the Akeyulerre Healing Centre. In our next program we will look at what’s happening for the young people of Alice Springs at the Gap Youth Centre.
To find out more about how the Australian Government is working to support our elders in the Alice, check out the links on our website, Indigenous.gov.au. You can also follow Closing the Gap on Twitter, and like Newslines Radio on Facebook.
I’m Nathan Ramsay, thanks for listening to Newslines Radio.