The Laneway Festival in Melbourne is again honoured to present a stage named for one of our local music heroes, Dean Turner, and proud to be supporting the Yiriman Project in his name.
Since 2011, you have raised over $250,000 which goes directly into programs devoted to helping Aboriginal youth in the Kimberley region (including a devastating suicide rate of 1 in 1,200) by taking them ‘back to Country’ in the company of their Elders, where they can begin to reconnect with their culture and strengthen their sense of identity. The Elders saw the need for a way in which youth could separate themselves from negative influences and, through the care and guidance of older generations, reconnect with their culture in remote and culturally significant places. This strategy of cultural healing from within the community has proven successful again and again in the 13 year history of the program and resulted in Yiriman winning the Reconciliation Australia 2012 Indigenous Governance Award (IGA) for outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in a non-incorporated initiative or project.
This year, thanks to your ongoing help, we were able to provide Yiriman with more funds to continue their great work.
Dean Turner passed away in August 2009 after a long courageous battle with an extremely rare form of cancer. As bass player and co-founder of Magic Dirt, Dean was deeply devoted to and passionate about music which was always evident in his energetic and enthusiastic stage presence. He was a unique individual with a beautiful soul and is a huge inspiration to many musicians. He provided his vast knowledge and support with humility, grace and integrity throughout his role as a songwriter, musician and producer. Dean worked tirelessly because music was one of the greatest joys in his life; he selflessly championed Australian music, was focused on encouraging young bands and hosted music workshops for secondary schools nationally. He was particularly generous with his time and advice and had a profound effect on people, always leaving a warm and inspired feeling.
The Dean Turner stage is an ongoing collaboration we will undertake with Dean˙s wife, Linda Bosidis, and their two girls, Charlie and Evie. We ask that everyone has Dean in their thoughts while enjoying the incredible acts that we have curated on this stage. Further to that, in consultation with Linda, we are proud to be supporting the Yiriman Project.
Dean was a lover of live music, a great friend, a true inspiration and leader in the local music scene. Our goal is to remember our friend as we are celebrating what he loved most: his family, friends and incredible music.
Violent Soho, one of the bands Dean managed while also producing their debut LP We Don’t Belong Here, returned to the Laneway line-up in 2016. The band honoured him in their own special way when they appeared on the Dean Turner Stage in Melbourne. Check out some of the photos Violent Soho personally captured throughout Laneway 2016 here.
The Yiriman Project was conceived and developed by the Elders from four Kimberly language groups: Nyikina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri. These old people were concerned for their young people about issues of self-harm, substance abuse and loss of cultural identity, and saw the need for a place where youth could separate themselves from negative influences, and reconnect with their culture in a remote and culturally significant place. Through this reconnection young people would gain strength and resilience, and build positive stories which they could take with them back to their towns and communities.
Many years of campaigning by Elders of these language groups finally resulted in funding being approved in 2001. After three successful years, funding was renewed and expanded to include a women's project officer in 2004.
The committment of the old people to their young people has allowed them to develop and direct this very unique Yiriman project in a culturally relevant way.
Believing in the power of their own culture and of Country to heal their own young people, the Elders began taking young people out on to Country, travelling over Country by foot, camel or vehicle, teaching and speaking in language, visiting ancestral sites, storytelling, engaging in traditional song and dance, preparing young people for ceremony and law practices, teaching traditional crafts, tracking, hunting, and preparing traditional bush tucker, practicing bush medicine, and passing on knowledge to the younger generations.
Beyond the transfer of knowledge and skills, Yiriman trips provide a safe and effective space for relationship to others and to Country to develop, and for communication and decision making to occur by cultural means. In this way, cultural healing, originating from within the culture and guided by the Elders themselves occurs.
The Elders believed at the start, as they do today, that through this reconnection and the resulting sense of cultural identity and belonging, young people gain strength and resilience, and build positive stories which they then take with them back to their towns and communities.
Many current challenges continue to face the young people and the culture itself, including increased rates of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, health issues, increasing demands on the Elders, young parenthood, and ensnarement in the Justice system. Despite these challenges, under the continued strong self-governance of the community, the founding principles at the heart of the Yiriman Project remain simple and effective, and shine through as a bright example in serving to address all of these issues by cultural means.
"My brother Johnnie Watson and Harry and all the old people from Fitzroy Valley came up with this little program called Yiriman to protect and look after kids. And when they was looking after kids they was looking after old people same time and looking at how to look after the country. We still going with it."
-Mr. Nyapartu Hopiga, Karajarri Elder
"Yiriman taking out kids who getting into trouble. Old people do lots of singing, get young people into language group, we tell them what skin we [are]. Get them working down there. Respecting old people. Cutting boomerang. Drive kids out looking for food, kangaroo, turkey. Learn how to find a feed. Old people been tell story, young people pick up that story. Future for culture side. Young people love it. Most things didn't happen before are happening now."
-Mr. Joe Brown, Walmajarri Elder
"When you on country, you walk with a spring in your step, you walk with your head high, you not afraid of anything. In order to find yourself you have to get lost. So best place to get lost is country."
- William Watson, Nyikina Man