Senior traditional owners, Lawmen and Song men gathered to participate in cultural activities over the 5 days. Anyinginyi Health and the cultural authority group in Tennant Creek took the lead role and helped organise the camp.
Camping on Country, our exciting new national men’s health and culture program headed by our Chairman Ernie Dingo hosted it’s first camp outside of Tennant Creek.
25 men attended over the five days and the first few days were spent making traditional boomerangs, which were then used in the singing of the songlines. Incredibly the Songlines take all day and all night to sing and cover more than 120 kilometres of country. Hundreds of verses are performed over the two days and the singing happens all night. The ancient ceremony is called Gudjika and is still practiced each year.
Culture is at the centre of Camping on Country but the men also received health checks and flu shots at the camp with the Anyinginyi remote medical team attending on one of the days. The men felt culturally safe and were relaxed about getting their health checks.
Harvey Williams a young traditional owner who participated in the camp said it was special to see his elders so engaged and happy on country. “Coming out here and camping with my countrymen and doing culture business and combining our health and wellbeing at the same time is a great idea. I can see these camps happening more, the men are loving it.”
The Tackling Indigenous Smoking team arrived on the Wednesday and did a workshop for the men discussing strategies around giving up the smokes.
Social and emotional wellbeing yarns happened around the fire each morning and were facilitated by Camping on Country Ambassador Ernie Dingo. “When we put the Law bosses up the top and recognise them as the experts in their own community positive change happens. These men are the only ones who can close the gap on their own health. These elders here have the solutions and we are here to help give the men a voice so they can be heard.”
One of the important outcomes from the camp was the identified need for a men’s shelter and rehab in Tennant Creek. Senior men identified this as a priority. The proposed shelter would be a special place for local men to get their life back on track and receive the support they need. Many of the men also mentioned obtaining special funding to run camps each month.
Congratulations to the Tennant Creek men’s group, the cultural authority group and Anyinginyi Health for helping organise such a positive camp for the men. It was great to see the story in the local Tennant Creek Times celebrating the men’s camp.
Camping on Country is managed by BushTV Enterprises and is funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health.
We acknowledge the support of the Hon Ken Wyatt AM Minister for Indigenous Australians