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How we're Caring for Country this NAIDOC Week

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‘Keeping the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud’ is the theme of NAIDOC Week 2024, and Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Institute for Change has demonstrated how this theme can also represent Caring for Country.

‘Keeping the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud’ is the theme of NAIDOC Week 2024, and Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Institute for Change has demonstrated how this theme can also represent Caring for Country.  

Principal research fellow and Wadjuk maaman Rohan Collard spent the past week guiding staff on how to care for the Baalka (Balga) Tree, a significant tree for Noongar peoples.  

Rohan said the Baalka Tree held on to energy, and through the burning, energy is released and the tree is, in a way, reborn. 

“Wadjuk Noongar have cared for this boodja for over 70,000 years,” he said. 

“As we all know, Murdoch is situated on a place of learning and sharing of kaartatjin (knowledge).” 

Rohan said the aroma of Baalka resin was used by Noongar peoples for thousands of years to cleanse and clear away bad energy.  

When the burning takes place, the smoke can be seen from great distances away, while the tree releases a sweet, aromatic smell.

Without the burning, Baalka trees can take several years to flower, and are susceptible to being burnt through during summer month wildfires.   

For many years Noongar peoples used the smoke from the trees as a tool for navigation, as well as using the resin as glue in spear-making and for patching up water containers. 

The burnings outside Ngangk Yira represented a cleansing of energy following renovations of the building, and an act of kindness towards the tree.  

We took this opportunity to care for the Baalka the way Noongar have cared for them for thousands of years. We see them as a living being whom is part of our Noongar world,” Rohan said. 

Ngangk Yira’s doors were left open during the burns to allow a natural smoking ceremony to occur, and Rohan sang several songs in Noongar asking the bad energy to leave and the good energy to remain.  

“This significant cultural practice is well-aligned with this year’s NAIDOC theme,” Rohan said. 

Find out more about how Ngangk Yira Institute is sharing Indigenous Knowledges and pursuing key research. 
Posted on:

11 Jul 2024

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Ngangk Yira Institute for Change

A strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient Aboriginal people and communities. Ngangk Yira's research is determined through a partnership between Elders, community stakeholders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers and focuses on complex issues in Aboriginal health and the achievement of social equity.

Learn more about our research.

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