NAIDOC Week 2017

What is NAIDOC Week 2017?

This week is NAIDOC Week 2107 in Australia.

NAIDOC is the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Each year for the first week of July, Australia celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and contributions to country and society.

This years theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’.

NAIDOC Week 2017

 

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to meet with elders and community, learn about culture and heritage and help establish a better understanding of community for all.

 

Last year I posted about some Aboriginal Bike Safety Programs for NAIDOC Week 2016.

For this year’s National Reconciliation Week, I looked at WA’s The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) to develop a team of Indigenous Olympic Track Cyclists.

This year I went to the Redland Performing Arts Centre to support their Our Languages Matter: A NAIDOC Showcase.

Redlands NAIDOC Week Celebrations

It was a terrific day.

There was a  traditional smoking ceremony, cultural and dance demonstrations, weaving workshops and a sand art/play space.

IndigiScapes Tea Garden Café kept us happily fed with copious amounts of bush tucker tasting including yummy croc curry, bush kangaroo sausages with sweet BBQ sauce and homemade kangaroo pies.

I was blown away to see Che ‘Cockatoo’ Collins there, one of my childhood AFL heroes in the flesh – awesome!!!

There was a super informative demonstration by Matt Burns (from the Qunadamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Stradbroke Island) about Aboriginal culture, tools and lifestyle – by far the best presentation I have seen – full of super interesting facts (like the Guinness World Record for javelin throwing is 104.80 m, as opposed to throwing a spear with a woomera 147meters, which William, an Indigenous man in Kuranda QLD did to become the Guinness World record holder).

Best of all was the concert by Bunna Lawrie and Coloured Stone in the RPAC Concert Hall.

NAIDOC Week 2017
Redlands Performing Arts Centre gearing up for a big NAIDOC event
NAIDOC Week 2017
Awesome Presentation by Matt Burns
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bush tucker: Crocodile Curry & Kangaroo Sausage with Sweet BBQ Sauce
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bunna Lawrie & Coloured Stone Performing

Custom Made Bikes by Aboriginal Artists

For the cycling NAIDOC Week 2017 fanatics, I’d like to share this custom made bike I saw in Cairns Airport when I was last there.

In the places I’ve seen painted bikes, it has been bikes painted by local or well-known Aboriginal artists that are then auctioned off for charity.

This bike was custom made (bamboo) and beautifully painted. It was part of the Ironman display, which was on at the time.( It’s a bugger the picture resolution is not good enough to read who the artist is to follow up – what a pity! I couldn’t find anything about it online about the bike or artist either! Grrr!).

Regardless, it was a stunning bike and well worth being showcased.

The photo does not do it justice – the detail in the painting was brilliant and the colours super vibrant.

What a beautiful bike – imagine hitting the road for your Saturday pack ride with this beauty!

Stunning!

What a great way to be proud of and share the elegance and heritage of Aboriginal art.

More like it, please!

Happy riding this NAIDOC Week!!


Postscript: I like to think this blog reflects a positive approach to people, life and choices.

I had a great time during NAIDOC week, but I was sorely disappointed but how few non-indigenous Australians attend NAIDOC events and support Indigenous Australia.

I have since been thinking about this a lot since NAIDOC.

I think it is time that as a nation we stand up and be proud of our indigenous history and peoples.

I find it unsettling that for the majority of Australians, this critical issue is of little or no importance.

So here is my challenge…

Still a long way to go for recognition and understanding

I am disturbed about the vast amount of misinformation that circulates about indigenous Australians.

Which is why events like NAIDOC are important.

In 2011, Indigenous Australians made up only 3% of all Australia’s population, and the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians have never spent any meaningful time meeting or speaking with Aboriginal Australians.

I think this is part of the problem.

Where was the non-indigenous community supporting NAIDOC this week?

I saw only a handful of non-indigenous people at the Redlands NAIDOC event.

Get better information about Australian history

For non-indigenous people who are interested in finding out more about Australia’s history (as opposed to the superficial, limited, romanticised, watered-down precis you might have got in school), there is a TV show I’d recommend as a starting point:

SBS’s First Australians seven-part series presents Australian history in a way that to date has remained predominately untold.

It is poignant, well-researched and important to know part of Australia’s history that needs to be known more widely.

See you next NAIDOC Week.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Indigenous Olympic track cyclists

National Reconciliation Week 2017.

This week, Australia is celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2017.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates, reflects and builds on respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other non-Indigenous Australians.

This year is particularly important as 2017 marks 50 years since the 1967 Referendum (May 27th), and 25 years (3rd June) since the historic Mabo decision.

The theme for #NRW2017 is ‘Let’s Take the Next Steps’, and there are many events and activities on offer throughout the week.

Griffith University has a strong commitment to Indigenous issues and positive Reconciliation.

One of my favourite annual events is the Walk and Talk event, which was held this Tuesday. It is a great event to connect, reflect and acknowledge.  I love doing the bushwalk between the Mt Gravatt and Nathan Campus, a trail I regularly walk or ride by myself, with a host of other students, staff and locals – and I always meet someone interesting and learn something new.

Aboriginal participation in cycling

It also gave me pause for thought about how Indigenous riders had opportunities to participate in mainstream Australian cycling culture. This is an area that needs serious concentrated effort and commitment. There are a few rare programs that focus on encouraging and increase access to biking for indigenous riders.

For example, this blog has previously featured the NSW Indigenous Mountain Bike Project as well as for NAIDOC Week 2016, the Aboriginal Bicycle Safety Program in NSW. So to celebrate NRW 2017, I searched for some other cycling program that was creating some positive cycling change for Aboriginal Australians – and this is what I found..

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

 The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID)

Last year, The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) was initiated at the Midvale Speed Dome (Perth) for young aboriginal riders aged 10-14 by Amanda O’Connor (Coach) to help identify and develop Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist.

Reports from this time last year indicate there were 8 Indigenous boys and girls riding in the squad.

Just after its conception, the ITID introduced some of the young talents, such as LeMarna Valentine and Rory Charles – as these up-and-coming ITID cyclists were due to participate with their teammates in a junior Pacific tournament in September 2016.

I also found a 3’ 26” ABC segment which gives a little more about the ITID development squad – New ABC Radio: Program in WA to identify the next generation of Aboriginal athletes.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

More support, access and recognition for Indigenous riders please!!!

It was great to see a forward-thinking program that provides instruction and coaching for track cycling for young aboriginal cyclists. Considering the immense investment in time and effort required to success at track cycling, it is a step in the right direction to provide a safe and encouraging environment for new and younger cyclists to try their hand at track.

Considering the success Australia has had so far in 2017 in track cycling, there certainly looks like there room for fresh new faces to get amongst it – and it would be great to see some aboriginal athletes representing Australia in track cycling in the future.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists
Source: Hills Gazette. Young cyclists in training: LeMarna Valentine, Rory Charles and Jacqualene Williams. Picture: Steve Lloyd

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project

While travelling the Northern New South Wales coast this week, I had a chance to catch up with some indigenous mates. We got chatting about bike riding. Lots of the local kids on the missions use bikes to get around, meet up with friends, go fishing or hang out at the local skate parks. BMX is pretty popular and I also saw some mountain bikes getting around. After our chat, it got me thinking. I decided to find out if there were any programs specifically supporting local NSW indigenous cyclists. The most prominent program that popped up was the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) and it also piqued my interest for other reasons, like program viability.

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

This is a NSW specific biking program. This was one of the many LIFE (Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone) programs run by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). The actual centre is based in Redfern, Sydney, but the actual MTB program had services and trips spread out all over the state. The central NCIE focus is to provide services, training and opportunity to increase health, life skills and talent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. NCIE has an array of educational, arts and culture, a conference centre, sporting, recreation, social, health and wellness services that develop skills, enterprises, occupational and technical opportunities and the like – all aimed at improving the learning, development and positive lifestyles for its members.

The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was one of the services the NCIE offered and it was created to get more indigenous people riding bikes. It was launched January 2012 and the main driving force, legs and faces of this project was Sean Appoo and Ben Bowen.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

“The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project is run by the Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone (LIFE) team at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in New South Wales. The aim of the project is to promote bike riding as a form of physical activity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages and health levels. The IMTBP has a fleet of 19 bikes for use by staff and program participants.  The program offers:

  • regular bike trips for groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people around Sydney
  • entry into local and regional mountain bike competitions
  • workshops on bike maintenance and safe cycling skills.”

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

  • This project ran From Jan 2012 until June 2015, whereupon it looks like the project was stopped. During those three years, the project held many social and skills rides, supported and attended events, had a good social media presence on Facebook and built up a community of active and enthusiastic cyclists.
  • Of the 19 bikes used, 3 are hybrid bikes and the other 16 are mountain bikes.
  • The fleet was not just used for training and maintained programs for new beginner riders, but were also used in local and regional MTB competitions, races and events.
  • The program was operational and participated in the Inaugural Koori MTB Cup in 2014.
  • The project had a team of representative riders who raced events such as the JETBLACK 24Hr, Koori MTB Cup and the Huski 100.
  • When the bikes are not being used for programs, events, trips or for local and regional MTB competitions, the NCIE staff use them to ride to and from meetings during work hours.
  • Other local inner city rides and meet ups were an adjunct feature of this program getting more people on bikes – local businesses, commuters and weekend rider forums popped up with riders sharing trip reports, ride details, invites for meet ups and technical knowledge.
  • The program received quite a bit of publicity and was feature in an SBS featurette in June 2015 (see below).

The IMTB Project Facebook site

Although no longer actively used since May 2015, the IMTBP Facebook site is still a testament to the range of biking services, popularity and community that this project built. There are numerous videos event posters and invites, people posting their trails via mapmyrides and sharing details for upcoming rides and active discussion forum for all levels of fitness, ages and cycling types.

There are a series of videos detailing the IMTBP team and adventures on MTB trials and during the JETBLACK 24 hr race at the LIFE TV YouTube channel, which show skills sessions, training, the IMTBP team riding in various events and it also has a few IMTBP rider profiles which are good to see. It also demonstrates the time and effort that many different people put into this project.

So what happened?

On the face value, it seems like the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was a ‘success’. But what does that mean and how do you measure it? What were the outcomes of this project? It seems to have got a good following, achieved its goals of getting more indigenous people riding and created a thriving community that had a good presence – so what happened to this program? Did funding run out? Did attendance wane? Was there no one to hand over to?

The only indication given was this post on Facebook group on June 2015.

IMTB PRoject
Source: IMTBP Facebook page

But this post gives few details about the status of the IMTBP (but certainly showcases the massive effort and impact Sean and Ben had during their time there).  Even though Sean and Ben are ‘wrapping up’,  it is unclear if that means the IMTB project finished as well. If it did, then why?

I called the National Indigenous Centre for Excellence LIFE Team’s 1300 866 176 phone number as provided online. I wanted to find out what happened to this project. But the number was disconnected. I tried the NCIE landline (02) 9046 7802 and had to leave a voice mail message. So I still don’t know what happened. Seems strange…

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

It can be incredibly frustrating and unfortunate that community programs such as this one can be planned, funded and implemented, yet are not sustainable to endure and provide such a valuable service. These kinds of scenarios occur all the time in the community/international development sphere. Whether it is a community group or multilateral international aid organisation, sustainability and how/why projects finish is a massive industry issue.

In my field of International development – one organisation decided to meet this issue head on. I will never forget seeing the 2008 Engineers without Borders Failure Report and watching David Damberger talk about what happens when an NGO admits failure – and hearing of project insights that were learnt, yet rarely acknowledged or shared.

I am by no means suggesting that the IMTBP was a mistake or ‘failure’, merely making the observation sad that such a positive biking program that obviously had community popularity and traction was not able to continue operating – which begs the questions – why not?

I thought back to my chat about bikes with my indigenous mates earlier this week. I wondered if the program was still operating would there be even more Koori riders? With such a strong community following and uptake, why was this initiative not picked up by local/national councils? Are we short changing the next Indigenous Anna Meares or Cadel Evans? What a great biking and community initiative – and what a pity it has not prevailed!

NAIDOC Week 2016

3 – 10 July 2016 is NAIDOC Week in Australia.

NAIDOC stands for the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee – and this week is a national celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements. This week aims to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society. As such, there are lots of local, regional and national events, gigs, meetings, exhibitions, public get-togethers and awards from all over Australia.

To celebrate this week, I’m following up on a NSW collaboration between Austcycyle and Cycling Australia Aboriginal Bicycle Safety ProgramThis program was funded by NSW Roads and Maritime Services and saw over 1,000 remote and rural 3-16 year old Aboriginal kids in 47 different locations have access to learn bike handling skills and how to safely ride bikes. This is an ongoing touring program aimed at reaching some of the more remote areas in NSW.

The participants undertake practical and interactive activities about safety gear like helmets and most interestingly, have a qualified bike mechanic that helps kids learn about bike maintenance and bike servicing. This is especially important as many of the bikes participants bring to use are hand-me downs (often third of fourth owners) and are either not working effectively, are in need of repair or have some safety defect – (mostly no brakes). Being on remote communities means that kids have limited access to repairs and bike parts. Kids who owned bikes bought them in to be repaired and assessed and then used them the practice skills and drills for better and safer riding.

There are a number of similar programs, and it seems that NSW is the national leader in actively promoting safe bicycle for aboriginal kids. Some of the other projects, such as Let’s Ride Delivery Centre in NSW run the same program, but from their centralised facility. If school truely is about learning skills for life, teaching bike riding and providing access to maintain and repair older bicycles is a productive and immediate way to empower regional aboriginal kids.

This program is great as it has a central hub that can continue to delivery the program, but the outreach projects that tours to remote communities who would otherwise not have access to such programs, is a great balance between resource management and service delivery.  With little entertainment and attention provided in isolated communities, bike riding is a popular way for kids to get around, socialise and keep active. A large part of these programs is focused on safety and education about helmet wearing, as aboriginal kids are the most reluctant cycling group to use cycling safety equipment – and coupled with dangerous or defective bicycles and an often reduced access to full medical facilities, aboriginal kids have a disproportionately higher rate of accidents and injuries compared to their other cultural counterparts.

It is great to see such programs moving further out to reach more people and getting more people out and about riding bikes.

 

Source: Cycling.org.au
Source: Cycling.org.au

 

 

Source: Cycling.org.au
Source: Cycling.org.au

 

 

Source: Austcycle
Source: Austcycle

Maityuwampi

Kaurna Cycling for Culture
Source: Kaurna Cycling for Culture

Welcome to Bicycles Create Change!

The Maityuwampi (bat wing) best represents this inaugural post.

Just as the Kaurna peoples in South Australia had no words to describe the bicycle and had to create new ways to describe it, so too, this blog endeavour to communicate and share the stories, initiatives and people who use, exchange, produce and love bicycles.

Maityuwampi – a new way to describe bikes.

This post is an initial point of entry into a new culture – albeit an online one. As this first post enters this new community, I am wary of negotiating the new locations, connections and customs inherent when participating and interacting here. It is strangely synonymous with travelling overseas or when visiting other peoples and cultures.

So as I enter this new cultural space, I acknowledge that this blog originates from Australia, which is Aboriginal land.  I recognise the strength, resilience and capacity of Aboriginal peoples and pay respect to the elders, both past and present, who are the traditional custodians of the knowledge and culture of the first Australians.

I look forward to navigating this new domain and to share the ‘glocal’ knowledge, skills and experiences I uncover where bicycles create postive community change – Welcome to the blog!