‘We want to share Culture with visitors. Give them something they can take back home with them and have for the rest of their lives.’
Victor Cooper, Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu and TRC Specialist partner.
This week was a big week for showcasing, celebrating and strengthening Aboriginal Culture in the Northern Territory.
Our first stop was meeting with the NT Aboriginal Tourism Committee and partners Tourism NT. Working together with our Specialist Cultural Tourism Partner Victor Cooper, Indigenous Community Television (ICTV) and graphic designers Coolamon Creative, we had the honour of presenting and workshopping the first draft of the NT Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Framework and Toolkit. This is an exciting work in progress, and we congratulate the Aboriginal Tourism Committee for their insights and direction towards the development of the Framework and Toolkit. This will become a flexible resource that can be used at any stage of the tourism journey, supporting ‘right way’ cultural tourism that balances ‘Cultural Way’ with ‘Western Business Way’ and empowering Aboriginal Territorians to choose their own cultural tourism pathway.
We then joined over 100 delegates at the second NT Aboriginal Tourism Forum hosted by Tourism NT and the Aboriginal Tourism Committee in Mparntwe Alice Springs. The feeling of the Forum is best summed up by James Morgan of Yibekka Kakadu Tours who said for him, “Coming together like this motivates us, keeps us all strong, reminds us why we are in tourism, why we do what we do.” We were rewarded with incredible stories from across the Northern Territory as a range of operators shared their personal cultural tourism journeys, while reminding us of the need to walk together / work together ‘both ways.’
Image: TRC’s Tracey Diddams and Specialist Partner Victor Cooper on top of ANZAC Hill, Mparntwe Alice Springs.
Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours shared their story of the Daminimin Festival created to ‘open the doors’ and connect people to culture. “We need to own it, control it, keep it as ours. For us, it’s about engaging, providing opportunities to engage. You can’t understand what you don’t know. We want people to know us, recognise us, understand our Culture.”
Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp owner and long-term friend and client of TRC Tourism Mandy Muir shared the reasons she became involved in tourism. “I wanted to be my own boss! I didn’t want someone else controlling what I did,” said Mandy. “(Through tourism) I acknowledge my Elders in my heart, in my mind every time I talk and walk on Country.”
When asked how the business worked through times of Cultural and Sorry Business, Mandy suggested “having a pool of people, even some external ones so that when Sorry Business happens, those external people can step in and let you and your family have their Sorry Time.”
New tourism business owner, but long-term tour guide and leader, Natasha Nadji from Kakadu’s East Alligator Region reminded us about right way Cultural Protocols and the value in sharing Culture.
For community – “It’s important we ensure we are sharing our stories the right way with our family group. They need to be supportive for our business to be successful.”
For visitors – “They’ve got to know this Country, this Culture too. So they can protect it with us.”
To wrap up, we talked about strong healthy partnerships with panellists from Kungkas Can Cook, Tampu King Aboriginal Corporation from the Tiwi Islands, Top End Day Tours, guests Wukalina Walk from lutruwita Tasmania and representatives from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The resounding top values in successful partnerships and ways of walking together and working together were:
- Trust – we can’t work together if we can’t trust one another.
- Respect – acknowledging what belongs to us, our Culture, our Country, our Protocols
- Communication – always having open dialogue, which fosters trust and mutual respect
- Building for our future – securing a future for our young people so they can always be connected to their Country and Culture.
Hearing these values truly makes my heart sing, to have the privilege of walking and working together with Aboriginal leaders across the NT and Australia and to work for a company whose values are also:
T – Trust
R – Respect
C – Collaboration.
I know I’m in the right place and looking forward to our shared path ahead.
Tracey Diddams, TRC Consultant Mparntwe/Alice Springs
Image: panellists featured from left to right, James Morgan (Yibekka Kakadu Tours), Natasha Nadji, Mandy Muir (Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp) and Victor Cooper (Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu).