Babies invited to connect with country

November 17, 2023 BY

Cleansing: Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation’s Welcome to Country babies ceremony included a smoking ceremony as well as certificates and cultural gifts presented to the young attendees by local Elders. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE next generation of the Bendigo community were welcomed as part of a special ceremony hosted by the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation on Tuesday.

Together with Bendigo Health, nearly 70 newborns were acknowledged with a Welcome Baby to Country ceremony at the Bendigo Botanic Gardens’ Garden for the Future.

DJAARA general manager Cassandra Lewis said the event was an important occasion to introduce the region’s newest residents to their birthplace.

“This welcome ceremony for babies honours and acknowledges a child’s connection to the lands on which they are born,” she said.

“This ceremony is about bringing community together and beginning the journey of education and reconciliation.

“For our people, the smoking ceremony and traditional welcome offers wellbeing and protection and connects baby to country.

“Practising our traditional culture on country is also healing for Dja Dja Wurrung people, who are still impacted by colonisation. It is important for us to pass our culture onto the next generation.”

Open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous babied up to 36 months old, 100 families registered to take part in the event.

The ceremony was part of a weeks’ worth of activities marking a decade since a recognition and settlement agreement was signed between DJAARA and the State Government.

Bendigo Health board chair Dr Ewa Piejko said the event is about providing a sense of place integral for a child’s development.

“Welcome Baby to Country is an important cultural ceremony that acknowledges the importance of a child’s sense of identity and belonging through connection to the traditional lands on which they’re born,” she said.