A GARNI, or digging stick ceremony, was held last week to celebrate the start of construction of the Dja Dja Wurrung Corporate and Community Centre in Golden Square.
The new building will fill the area left vacant by the demolished Golden Square High School, and Dja Dja Wurrung elders, DJAARA Corporation board members and local and state politicians attended the event.
DJAARA chair Trent Nelson said the event marked an important day for Dja Dja Wurrung people.
“This is a momentous occasion,” he said, “Because this is about traditional owners moving forward in self-determination and creating our future destiny in what we do.
“It’s honourable and I think for us in the wider community, in the wider non-aboriginal community, it’s something for us to look forward to.
“To show how we walk together as black and white holding hands together and walking for that future and for our kids.”
State Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Gabrielle Williams, attended the ceremony and said the new building will be an environment for people to grow and learn.
“It’s a vision that talks to not only creating a home for [the Dja Dja Wurrung] community to gather, to connect, to engage, to teach, to learn, but also a place that is designed to bring in the broader community as well for all those same purposes,” she said.
“In doing so to genuinely create an environment where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal walk together to build a future that we can all genuinely be proud of.”
DJAARA will use the centre to hold cultural artefacts, run agricultural businesses, and house and grow their cultural and natural resources teams.
It will also be used as a teaching space and will include a general-purpose laboratory.
DJAARA CEO Rodney Carter said Dja Dja Wurrung Corporate and Community Centre will be a place to celebrate history and culture as well as promote growth into the future.
“Our corporate home will help us realise economic opportunities and become self-sustaining,” he said.
“It will honour the survival of the Dja Dja Wurrung people. Here, we will share and celebrate our culture, heal our people and improve community wellbeing.”