Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Justine Dillon

This resource is related to the following Learning Areas –

And responds to the following Enquiry Questions –

Q1.Indigenous family structures and the roles and responsibilities.
Q14.What were the traditional laws, protocols and customs of the Kombumerri people?
Q46.What were the Indigenous protocols when communicating with different age groups, e.g. Elders and children?

Resource transcript –

Yeah there’s a protocols of hierarchy in our family. I think I explained earlier. So a younger person will never talk down or get cheeky or interrupt your Elder you have to wait your turn. You know when we’re kids you’ve pretty much told “You been seen not heard” unless you know it’s your turn to talk. The adults are talking, the Elders are talking and unless you’ve got something that’s urgent and relates to that direct topic, even then you wait your turn to interrupt and have your say, otherwise there is, you know, in our community our family … I call it the great vine … they’re all connected they all talk to each other constantly and you say or do one thing wrong to an Elder or someone in our family everyone else will know very soon and some people will lose respect for you. They want to work with you they might spread rumors about you wait till they see and pull you up might clip you on the ear or tell you no you shouldn’t talk like that to that person. And a lot of our Elders are trying to instill that still but there’s another … I don’t know like, my daddy was a little bit more forthcoming and different with some of his culture like he’s like “not everyone’s your Aunty bub” like know just because they’re saying call me Aunty goes unless you know them personally and they’re part of our mob and you know them a little bit because they don’t you don’t have to call them Aunty you know that’s not they’re not your mob. She goes it’s a respect thing in some places it goes but it’s also you got to earn that respect you can’t go around just asking people call me Aunty and Uncle my Dad felt weird saying telling people call me Uncle because he’s like “I don’t know these people. They don’t know me. We’ve got to build that rapport first before we get to that level”. I don’t know that can be hard trying to … I’ve been witness to some Elders have gotten up and tried to deliver speeches and they yell and they scream and they demand people call them an Elder if they see them in public. And I’m like sitting there shotgun that’s not our way. We don’t demand respect from people we don’t yell and scream and berate because people have misconceptions and don’t understand. Um we’ve got to understand it as well, and help work through it instead of being aggressive which is what I keep witnessing in a bit of the Elder generation and it goes back to that I can’t pull that person up and tell them in front of everyone “Don’t do that, you know that shame job you’ve said the wrong thing” I’d have to wait and probably go to an Elder above them and say look I witnessed this “Can you help alleviate the situation?” because as a whole, it makes us all look bad, as indigenous people, aboriginal people when someone’s getting up and berating someone else and they’re a prominent Elder to the rest of us. I’m like but they don’t know the history we all know about that person and why they’re carrying on. So it’s I don’t know we’ve got a long way to come and I think a lot of it will be resolving our language our Native Title …and then but… we’re all trying to focus on and keep that principle of respect to Elders respect our cultural heritage. There’s a bit of confusion with some misconceptions with our own mob that they think the hierarchy means we had a monarchy too. You know that we had to talk to our Elders of like King and Queens and I’m like “No, we that’s not our concept at all” There might be senior Elders but it’s never one, unless the others are past and pass that on to them. That’s kind of I think has happened here a bit with our Kombumerri Elders. Pop Graham he’s our most senior male Elder that’s left alive. Female senior Elder there’s another one but there’s not many left in their generation and we’re seeing the decline in the generations that’s why we’re trying to encourage the next lot “Come on up, start learning from them if you haven’t already. Share what you know so we can keep piecing together our culture and make it a whole again”. Because trying to teach people about Kombumerri culture with bits and pieces it’s a struggle.