The Buttery has been serving the Northern Rivers region of NSW since 1973. It is the largest provider of drug, alcohol and gambling counselling in the area and it operates a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre near Bangalow. Since 2011, the Healing Foundation has been working with INTRA, The Buttery’s outreach program, to provide financial support to a group called Wake Up Time. The group formed in 2003 in response to concerns by local Aboriginal women and Buttery counsellors about drug and alcohol problems in the Casino Aboriginal community. The women decided that art, and in particular weaving, would act as a means of meditation and therapy for them.
What’s the program about?
Here is a comment by Lauren Jarrett, a Bundjalung, Gumbayngaree and Dunghutti woman, and counsellor at The Buttery’s INTRA outreach program:
“It is a way of renewing culture and essential in healing the effects of dispossession and the stolen generation. The women ‘walk the land’ retracing the steps of their great grandmothers and connecting with the environment while feeding the spirit as they search for pandanus, lomandra and other local materials to use in their craft.”
The project aims to:
- Improve skills and confidence, cultural connections and cultural pride
- Improve the status of the participants in their community and improve their capacity to participate in work and economic activity
- Revitalise traditional culture
Improve intra- and inter- personal skills
How’s the program going?
One of the weaving facilitators made the following comment:
“It has been amazing to watch the increased confidence [of the women], to see how they deal with the media and socially mix with people. Sitting there and weaving gives them a sense of having something to offer…people are coming to them and engaging with them…they can show their knowledge and skills in public…and show pride in their culture.”
The work of the Wake Up Time group attracted the attention of Aboriginal Regional Arts and were invited to participate in the “Fabric of Our Culture” project. The Wake Up Time group and two other local women’s groups were offered the opportunity to exhibit traditional and contemporary textiles and weavings at the Boomali Gallery in Sydney. As part of this project, the ABC made two documentaries about Wake Up Time. You can view one of the videos on the ABC website here.
The Buttery’s website: http://www.buttery.org.au/
© All images belong to The Buttery