Working together in the Kimberley

News | Created 26 Oct 2017

WA Museum Curators Michelle Broun and Stephen Kinnane and Community Engagement Officer Barbara Paulson attended last month’s Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) Festival at the invitation of KALACC’s Board of Directors.

The trip followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the WA Museum and KALACC. The MOU outlines a commitment for the two organisations to work together to engage with Aboriginal peoples from the Kimberley and identify ways local stories could be shared in the New Museum.

At the KALACC Festival Michelle, Steve and Barbara met with leaders and artists from different cultural groups across the Kimberley to talk about the New Museum Project and the ways Aboriginal stories will be featured.

The KALACC Festival occurred over five days this year and was held at Lombadina, north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsular, home of the Bardi peoples.

KALACC describe the Festival as an opportunity for “Elders to call their people together in one place so they can listen and learn the stories, songs and dances that connect them to the land. They direct evidence of people's right to live in this Country through their corroborees. They make people feel strong and proud.”

Wes Morris from KALACC said the organisation was pleased to partner with the WA Museum and they looked forward to sharing stories from Kimberley peoples in the New Museum.

“KALACC is extremely pleased to be working in partnership with the museum in order to share the richness of Kimberley cultures with the wider world. We commend the museum for investing in community liaison officers and for building up capacity and skills in remote regions.”

WA Museum staff hosted a stall at the Festival where they held meetings and shared information about the New Museum Project, as well as Kimberley material held in the State’s Collection.  These meetings gave curators the opportunity to share their vision and to get valuable feedback about appropriate ways to present Kimberley stories and cultural materials.

WA Museum Community Engagement Officer Barbara Paulson said the Festival was a special time where people from around the region come together and share culture and stories.

“It was beautiful to see how mob are supporting their leadership into the future, and to see firsthand how they create the spaces to celebrate and maintain traditional cultural practises in contemporary times. I was honoured to be there,” she said.

The Yirimam Women's Project is a community development and enterprise project based on traditional knowledge of bush food and medicines.
Image copyright WA Museum

A highlight for the team was the circle talk about the Yirimam Women’s Project. This is a community development and enterprise project that is developing a commercial venture for women, based on traditional knowledge of bush foods and medicines.

The Festival experience was invaluable for building a positive relationship with Kimberley communities. KALACC has recommended Putuparri Tom Lawford and Tanya Carter to assist the Museum to connect with local people and share stories and culture.  KALACC is also providing advice about the ways in which local stories could be shared in the New Museum.

“Seeing the dances, hearing songs that are being recovered, it was an extraordinary experience. I loved how the dances reflected the character and humour of the people. I’m really excited to be working as the engagement officer with these communities for the New Museum Project,” Barbara said.

Feature Image
WA Museum curator Michelle Broun and ATSI Engagement Officer Barbara Paulson sit with Putuparri Tom Lawford and Tanya Carter a the New Museum Project stall at the KALACC Festival 
Image copyright WA Museum