My name is Raelene Mamarika. I live with my partner and son who is 7 years old. I live in a small town called Umbakumba, which is on Groote Eylandt, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in the Northern Territory of Australia. There are about 400 people in my town – I’m related to nearly all of them. We have two shops, one in the centre of town and the other down near the beach. We have a small school, and this is where I went as a little girl and teenager. Umbakumba is a pretty spot that has a wonderful lagoon full of fish, crabs, stingray, shellfish and other animals – even crocodiles. Each workday I catch a bus at 630, and travel 40 km to a mine site called GEMCO. Here I work with other friends and family to collect seeds, grow bush tuckers, control weeds, learn new skills and support my community. I’m really excited and a little bit scared to be here in Bali, it is my first time out of Australia.
About Bush Medijina
Most important to us is the wellbeing of Warningakalina women. As indigenous women, we face many challenges. With high rates of crime and violence in our communities we don’t always feel safe, impacting our mental health, and that of our children. School attendance rates are low; jobs are scarce. Our life expectancy is reduced due to systemic and genetic health issues, exacerbated by our remote location and limited access to services. The future of our people lies in building culture and capability across the archipelago. We wish to empower our women to become strong in both body and mind, better able to face these challenges and be leaders in, and advocates for, our own communities. The Bush Medijina shed is a safe place for us to meet and share our stories and culture. The program regularly initiates activities to educate Warningakalina women and their families on a range of health, wellbeing and community leadership topics. These activities also provide an opportunity to share and preserve cultural knowledge. We engage in a range of programs with local schools to ensure younger indigenous girls are learning to walk in two worlds; learning to successfully run a business, while paying respect to cultural traditions, and providing the opportunity to be on country with their aunties, mothers and grandmothers.