Having lived in Derby for the past six months, we have just begun our relationship with the Aboriginal culture, and still have a lot to learn. Often, when visitors pass through a town like Derby, they are confronted with things they don’t like, such as drunkenness, public fighting, dirtiness, neglected children. But I am noticing that this is not the overall picture. I am glad that we have the privilege of getting to mix with and befriend Aboriginal people, both here in Derby and out on the more remote communities. There are some things that I have observed which I really like or are just different from the way we do things. For instance, having two young sons (6 & 8), I’ve had the opportunity to take them along to local sports. They’ve had a short go at footy and now are getting into basketball. They way they run sports here is so different to the way its done in the city. Its more casual, more regular, and a lot less regulated. I am pretty much the only parent who brings my children, and stays to watch. The kids mostly find their own way to the footy field or rec center. They don’t have to pay, or sign any forms. They just turn up whenever they like and go when they like. They come because they want to be there, and they have a lot of fun. If someone gets hurt, they look after each other, but don’t dote. Once the tears are wiped away, the kid is usually straight back into it. They mostly have bare feet. But the thing that has impressed me the most is the inclusive spirit. Kids of all ages, from little ones up, are encouraged to join in. Our boys have never played basketball before, but both the adult leaders and the kids have encouraged them and are willing to teach them as they go along. The players that are recognised are the ones who pass the ball to the little kids and tell them how to play. And boy, can some of those younger kids play. You should see them shoot the goals from way back at the three point line!
Another thing I observe is the strong link with nature that the Aboriginal people have. They prefer to sit outside to be together, rather than inside. If you run out of things to talk about, just get them started on fishing or talking about the plants or animals in the area. There is a lot we can learn from them. When it rains in Derby, you won’t see Aboriginal people with umbrellas. If they are walking around town when the sky opens up, they’ll just keep walking.
Yes, I am looking forward to learning more from my Indigenous neighbors.