Dianne Biritjalawuy Gondarra was Indigenous X host from October 31 to November 7, 2014.
Five questions to Dianne Biritjalawuy Gondarra
My language is Dhangu, but I also speak Djambarrpuyŋu, which is the common language on Elcho Island. I speak 12 other Yolngu (Indigenous people of North East Arnhem Land) languages as well as English. Through my gurrutu (kinship relationships), my ringgitj (clan-alliance), my baapurru (paternal clan) and my maalk (skin name), I am related to every Yolngu person, all of the land and everything in the land within North East Arnhem.
I am a cross-cultural consultant and educator and work to promote dialogue, understanding and awareness between my culture and the mainstream Australian culture. I also work with The AHED Project on Elcho Island.
I want to tell you how my people are being affected by having a law that is foreign forced upon them. I will tell people our struggles, differences, similarities and the hope that I see for my people.
Specifically I am going to focus on my Hope for Health crowd-funding campaign. Today Yolngu people are facing high rates of chronic disease and it is killing our communities. This is because of the confusion that exists between our two worlds, particularly around nutrition. I am starting a health retreat in my community where people can experience, learn about and understand good nutrition. I will be tweeting a call to support my campaign.
I will also be talking about land and property rights from the perspective of Yolngu Madayin law and how this law creates a state of magaya (harmony & peace) and protection for our women, our men, our children. As our Madayin law is sacred and holy, so are our women, men and children and we want this to be respected.
My Malu (father) & Ngaandi (mother), Djiniyini Gondarra & Gelung Bukulatjpi. They introduced me to the mainstream world and showed me how to navigate it as a strong Yolngu person. She taught me about my rights as a woman and he taught me how to use my voice in a way that is wukindimirr (respectful through proper dialogue and processes).
My Dhuway (husband) Ruwarringa holds a high-ranking position in our Yolngu parliament. He filled gaps in my knowledge so I could explore and understand my Yolngu citizenship more deeply.
Wamut Richard Trudgen has spent 40 years working with Yolngu and 12 of those he has spent working with me. He made himself into a Balanda resource for Yolngu and helped me become literate in the Balanda world from within my Yolngu framework. He was like a bridge between the two worlds.
It needs to be acknowledged through educating Australians in our schools curriculum of the united history that we all share of this country’s dispossession and colonisation. It also needs to be acknowledged by respecting our ownership of the land and crediting that, not undermining land rights. Many of the issues we face and in particular our health and housing and services may be addressed through action and respect, and we need to address those and not increasing incarcerate our people.