1 February 2024

'We want to see it last another 65,000 years': Gumaraa CEO says funding supports cultural growth

| Zoe Cartwright
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#gumaraa #richard campbell

Richard Campbell (back row, third from the right) with Gumaraa at Shellharbour City Council’s 2023 Community Awards. Photo: Michael Boyle.

Richard Campbell has spent 30 years planting the seeds of culture with young Aboriginal people and helping them to re-engage with Country.

The Kiama-born Yuin Nation artist is founder and CEO of Albion Park’s Gumaraa Aboriginal Experience, a cultural and education company based on the traditions of the Dharawal and Yuin nations.

Its programs and tours aim to educate the wider community on Indigenous culture, traditions and history, but a project which recently received a NSW Government funding boost of $17,000 is particularly special to Richard.

Richard said “Dance with your Mob” strengthened young Aboriginal people’s connection to their culture.

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“Through movement we can connect the younger generation to what our ancestors have done for thousands of years,” he said.

“Seeing our kids re-engage back with Mother Earth, their cultural grassroots, their kinship, it shows them where they fit in and where they belong.”

Richard said he had shared culture for more than 30 years, and it had a powerful effect on growing adolescents.

“I’ve taught thousands of kids dance over the years, and often it’s not until they get older and that shyness and shamefulness falls away that they come back to culture and to dance,” he said.

“The more seeds we can plant in our young people of that culture, the more it continues through the generation.

“Our culture is coming to the forefront, it’s coming back bigger and stronger and now everybody wants to learn, whether it’s weaving, dancing, art or cultural knowledge.

“To showcase what they know on a big stage in front of people, it’s unbelievable to see what the young kids can put on.

“It gives them pride within themselves, self-esteem and there’s events all along the South Coast now.”

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Richard thanked the government and Member for Kiama Gareth Ward for the funding, but said spots for the project had filled up fast.

He’s calling for ongoing funding to help Gumaraa deliver programs like Dance with your Mob into the future.

“I’ve just finished a cultural awareness day with our young workers, and to see the way they deliver culture, it makes me feel privileged to know it’s in safe hands,” he said.

“We want this to be ongoing; we want ongoing funding; we want to share our culture with young people and have it last for generations to come – hopefully another 65,000 years.”

Mr Ward said he appreciated the impact programs delivered by Gumaraa had on the community.

“I congratulate Richard Campbell, Lisa Bazzano, and Gumaraa, for their contributions to the region and the preservation and sharing of Aboriginal culture,” Mr Ward said.

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