Aboriginal staff members at Leppington Stabling Yard, and their families, took people on a journey into their culture for NAIDOC week using smoke, storytelling, art, music, and dance.
On arrival people were asked to contribute to a hand-print mural which is now on display at Leppington. Aunty Jo, mother of Guard Dea Parker, opened the event through ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ and spoke about the importance of showing respect for the traditional owners.
Driver, Rob McDonald, joined by his wife and daughter, held his first Smoking Ceremony, and invited people to come forward and use their hands to sweep the smoke around their body as a form of healing and cleansing. The smoke has the ability to ward off bad spirits and make a pathway for a brighter future.
Driver, Erin Dunn and her children performed a traditional Aboriginal dance. Erin also spoke eloquently about why the railways was the biggest employer of Aboriginal people in the country. Erin said one of the main reasons was that there wasn’t a wages gap with non-Aboriginal people. She also believes that Aboriginal people have an affinity to the railways and that her uncles were either engine men or train drivers and she has followed in their footsteps.
Executive Director, Hayden Donoghue was presented with a painting by Erin’s son Robert, a budding artist. This will take pride of place at Central depot after the refurbishment. Hayden suggested that the painting could have been an artist’s interpretation of the rail network, noting that all crew and trains pass through Central.
SEQR Professional, Aaron Preston brought a sporting element to the morning and later raffled a beautiful aboriginal jersey, which was won by Driver, Sanjeev Ram. Click here to see the highlights.
Driver, Erin said: “I was really gratefully to have the opportunity to share some stories and culture at Leppington Stabling Yard for NAIDOC week. It warmed my heart to dance with my children. When we dance, we dance for out old people who are standing by us, and we dance for our children and our children’s children”.
Shift manager, Funda Eken said: “I was privileged to be involved in organising such an amazing day with Christi Woods, Senior Manager and Cherish Nouata, Admin Support and of course the crew. It took a lot of planning and organising but it was so worth it – everyone really enjoyed it”.
Director Crew Service Experience, Amba Francisco said: “What a spectacular event put on by Team Leppington, made particularly special by Erin Dunn and her family. I’ve learnt so much more about Aboriginal culture which is what this week is all about. Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!”