IWC director Stirling Eggmolesse (centre) with Gidarjil Corporation's Dr Kerry Blackman (right) in front of the display.
IWC director Stirling Eggmolesse (centre) with Gidarjil Corporation's Dr Kerry Blackman (right) in front of the display.

History in colour as IWC display lights up for first time

TEARS of joy were shed among guests and spectators as the IWC Health and Wellbeing Complex switched on a series of coloured downlights to showcase 80 metres of pictorial screens that wrap the building.

The screens show the pictorial Aboriginal history of the region, with each of the 11 panels depicting oral histories about Sacred Sites, ancient traditions and, importantly, the bloody massacres that decimated Aboriginal peoples in the 19th century.

They were lit for the first time on Tuesday as the sun set and will be regularly lit for the community in the future.

Each of the downlight colours was chosen by First Nation Elders to represent different things – aqua for the ocean, ochre for the rich soil, and red for oral histories of the massacres, which cover two panels.

Byron Broome played didgeridoo during the opening ceremony.
Byron Broome played didgeridoo during the opening ceremony.

IWC general manager Wayne Mulvany said the creation of the pictorial screens was a process that brought about much emotion “bringing to the sore long-suppressed pain and suffering carried by Traditional Owners and Elders in this region”.

“These screens provide community custodianship of the oral histories, which are a legacy to be shared with all peoples and, through this, help to build true Reconciliation,” Mr Mulvany said.

“We thank the Working Group of Elders for providing their wisdom and knowledge.”

He believed the display, a pictorial and written history of the region as told by Elders, was a first for Australia.

“During the course of the consultations, it has been very evident that a great weight has been lifted from the First Nations custodians of this region,” he said.

The ceremony opened with didgeridoo from Byron Broome and a Welcome to Country spoken by Elder Uncle Raymond “Willie” Broome in the Taribelang Bunda language, translated into English by Aunty Di Brown.

Aunty Di Brown with Uncle Raymond
Aunty Di Brown with Uncle Raymond "Willie" Broome and IWC's Janette Young.

Uncle Willie said to see the screens was overwhelming for himself and his people and that it finally gave them a voice.

“For eons, the Taribelang people nurtured our land,” he said.

“We developed knowledge, technology, skills and practices which led our Ancestors to prosper. The sharing of our ancient knowledge today, as passed down by our Ancestors, is important because there cannot be true Reconciliation without honesty, integrity and truth.”

Uncles Raymond
Uncles Raymond "Willie" Broome and Wayne Mothe flank Aunty Eileen Rowe.

Uncle Wayne Mothe helped create the screens and said it felt fabulous to share stories that hadn’t been told.

“People haven’t been aware of what has happened in this region and area years and years ago,” Uncle Wayne said.

“It means a hell of a lot. It’s a spiritual thing and we are a spiritual people.”

Aunty Eileen Rowe said a similar project had been the desire of her husband, a Taribelang man.

“My husband tried for so long to for something like this to happen, and it’s happened now … I’m very proud,” she said.