Head of Gadens’ Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, Partner Brad Marland recently travelled to some of Australia’s most remote Indigenous communities as part of Bond University’s annual Yarning Up experience.
A previous winner of the Queensland Premier’s Reconciliation Award, Yarning Up, is a five-day cultural immersion offered by the Gold Coast-based, private university to a small group of corporate executives and education leaders.
Brad Marland and the Yarning Up group visited the Torres Strait where they engaged with families, community leaders, aunties and Elders on Thursday Island (Waiben) and Murray Island (Mer).
“On Murray island, we were each teamed up with a primary school child and their family,” said Brad Marland.
“The children showed us around their classrooms at the Mer campus of Tagai State College, then took us home to meet their parents.
“It was a rare opportunity to sit down with a Murray Island family and find out exactly what it’s like to live and grow up in a remote Indigenous community.
“Murray Island is the birthplace of Eddie Mabo and Australia’s native title legislation so, as a lawyer, it was a real privilege to visit his grave which is regarded as a sacred site by the Meriam people on Murray Island.”
Bond University launched its Yarning Up experience in 2014, originally as an educational initiative that saw Principals from Australia’s leading girls’ schools spending five days in the Lockhart River Aboriginal community on the Cape York Peninsula.
It now alternates each
year between Lockhart River and the Torres Strait Islands. It has also expanded
to include corporate representatives from organisations like Gadens who can
build on-going relationships, not just with children, families and schools, but
with the broad spectrum of community and business leaders.
Professor Nick James,
Executive Dean of Bond University’s Faculty of Law who has accompanied the
Yarning Up group for the past two years said program
had grown and evolved since its inception.
“Bond University is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and in those 30 years, we have created strong connections with members of the Australian business and legal community – with organisations like Gadens, for instance,” Professor James said.
“Through Yarning Up, we are tapping into that network of influential and well-resourced connections and bringing them out to places like the Torres Strait Islands so we can build a bridge between the people living with the challenges of remote communities and leaders like Brad Marland who have the ability and, more importantly, the desire to make a genuine difference.
“It is also an opportunity to learn more about the culture and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, which is something that all Australians can share and be enriched by.”