Sisters doing it for each other
The Djinders Aboriginal Domestic Violence Support Group creates a safe place for Aboriginal women to heal and learn
IN November 2015, a group of like-minded Aboriginal women from the Clarence Valley attended an Aboriginal Women’s Domestic Violence Summit held at Mandalong, south of Newcastle.
The aim of the summit was to highlight the issues of domestic violence and to support victims and their families.
The women were so inspired by the summit they decided to form their own domestic violence support group in Grafton.
This group has become known as Djinders, which is a Gumbaynggirr word meaning “sister”.
The support group holds a monthly yarning circle to provide support to one another and plan activities.
Djinders is led by a core group of four Aboriginal women – Rachael Cavanagh, Rachael Williams, Roslyn Kennedy and Bundjalung Elder Midge Bancroft.
In 2016 the Djinders fundraised so they could attend a Closing the Gap event in Canberra.
This event had a focus on domestic violence. (The Closing the Gap strategy is a Council of Australian Governments initiative to reduce the level of disadvantage amongst Aboriginal people.)
Returning from this event motivated the Djinders further. They were able to negotiate with the Forestry Corporation of NSW to secure a permit on a portion of land at Ramornie.
The permit allows Djinders to use the land for cultural activities. A lot of thought went into choosing the particular spot for the Djinders. Elders and other community members were consulted, as the Djinders and Forestry Corporation wanted to ensure that the chosen site was a culturally safe place for all Aboriginal women.
Rachael Cavanagh, a spokeswoman for the group, said “we want to get the Aboriginal community back on Country”.
Djinders intends to use a site mostly for women and children’s activities that provide empowerment, although there will be opportunities for the whole Aboriginal community to be involved.
There are plans to teach women the art of cultural burning with the view to setting up a cultural burning team.
Cultural burning is a particular method of burning off which Aboriginal people have used for thousands of years to maintain the landscape and ensure a plentiful food supply.
There are also plans to undertake bark canoe and weaving workshops and activities that utilise their newly planted bush tucker garden.
An 8 x 4 metre shelter and a large water tank have already been installed on the land.
Two composting toilets and semi-permanent
sleeping compartments will be added to the existing structures in the future.
As well as the support that the Djinders received from Forestry Corporation, they are also assisted by Grafton Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) who allows Djinders to hold their monthly gatherings at their premises. The Land Council also auspices any funds the group receives.
The group intends to become an incorporated body in its own right so that they will be able to manage their own funds.
Recently SBS reporters visited the property and interviewed members of Djinders for their program The Feed, which will be seen on SBS Viceland on November 20.
The episode featuring the Djinders will be one of a number of programs with a domestic violence focus that SBS has scheduled in the lead-up to White Ribbon day on November 25.
SUPPORT: Rachael Cavanagh, one of the leaders of the Djinders group, and her daughter Mirring-nga.
The site being used by the Djinders group for women’s and children’s activities.