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Immersing First Nations children in care along with their carers in a cultural experience was the focus of a camp in the Northern Flinders Ranges at the end of April.

Facilitated by AnglicareSA’s Foster Care Services and the team at Iga Warta, the camp on the land of the Adnyamathanha People – People of the Rocks – is part of a strong commitment to First Nations children to ensure that no child leaves AnglicareSA care without culture.

A total of 12 families, including 28 children, spent three nights camping under the guidance of Uncle Terry Coulthard and Aunty Glenise Coulthard learning about kinship structure, laws, and Creation stories, while also visiting sacred sites and to gain an understanding of the importance of sharing experiences on Country.

Foster carer Sam said it was a privilege to be welcomed onto Adnyamathanha land.

“We were welcomed with open arms,” she said. “They put us up in accommodation, fed us, taught us about the land, language, and traditions. We sang songs and they took us on tours of their land including through rocky creek beds to see artwork in caves from more than 34,000 years ago.

“We walked paths of families who were forced to move on (not that long ago) and heard heartbreaking stories about the lives of those families.

“We listened to stories with our feet in the sand of creek beds and heard many stories of love, happiness, and heartbreak. It’s hard to explain the emotion we felt at times.”

For carers Sarah and Paul, the camp was an eye-opening opportunity to come together as a community and develop a greater understanding of culture.

“What an amazing group of committed people helping to go beyond our ‘academic’ understanding,” they said. “We have so many incredible memories and a deeper understanding and connection to the Adnyamathanha people and their culture. 

“We believe this will support us in connecting with our children’s cultural group in a much more meaningful way.”

The camp also served as a connection for carers, helping to create a community of people with similar lived experiences that they can reach out to in the future.

Likewise, the children in care also connected with others they had never met.

Carer Jayne said: “The kids talked about their new friends all the way home. We have already caught up with a young person who has become a friend, and we are planning a camping trip with him and his family very soon.”

AnglicareSA Principal Aboriginal Practitioner Samantha Gollan said the camp reiterated to her that we were on the right track for First Nations children in care.

“There was a sense of belonging and a deep connection to culture and to each other,” she said.

“The impact for foster carers was huge, for them to see and feel that culturally, we are raised by our community and are stronger for our culture was something special.

“Many conversations were had about our history, about intergenerational trauma, and things that you can’t read in books.  For me, I came home feeling culturally re-energised.”

AnglicareSA would like to thank the CMV Group Foundation for supporting this year’s camp with funding. The CMV Group has been a longstanding partner of AnglicareSA, and we are grateful for their willingness to extend their support to new initiatives such as this camp.