Care for Country

May 17th, 2018
Care for Country
Ivan Copley is a Peramangk Elder who will be delivering a series of talks in the Adelaide Hills during Reconciliation Week.

His talks will provide an Aboriginal perspective on locations in the Hills and the connection with Aboriginal history.

“There is a lot of interest to non-aboriginal Australians,” Ivan said.

“We share a lot of values especially about how people care for country.

“The environment’s a hot subject at the moment.

“But it’s something that has been a law for Aboriginal people all around Australia for thousands of years.”

For Ivan, the personal connection with the land and its many inhabitants began at a young age.

The black cockatoo feathers he is pictured holding are part of his totem which were given to him by elders and family.

“I had a responsibility from early on to ensure that the black cockatoo and its environment was kept healthy,” Ivan said.

“If someone came into a specific region they would not go near the waterhole or touch the small pine cones from Casaurinas that the black cockatoo loves without asking my permission.”

Ivan said he is seeing more inclusion of this sense of personal responsibility among non-Aboriginal Australians.

“I visit lots of schools in the Hills and they are asking more about the different local animals, plants and trees so the children can care for their own backyard,” he said.

“Learning more about where you live and what shares that space gives you a better awareness of the environment.”

While reconciliation efforts are heading in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done for equality to be reached.

“I don’t think people realise that Aboriginal people are still the most disadvantaged minority group in Australia in terms of health, social and financial outcomes,” Ivan said.

“The key to it is to know more.”

“It isn’t about making people feel guilty but have them acknowledge the past and understand its effects so they can gain a new perspective.

“That way they move away from hatred and fear.”

The Peramangk people lived throughout the Adelaide Hills and north as far as Angaston.

Local storyteller and historian Bob Innes expressed his disappointment that not more is known about the Peramangk.

“The most sad and pertinent fact is they just about disappeared after settlement,” he said.

“A lot of the Peramangk that did survive were sent off to missions or merged with the Kaurna in the Adelaide Plains.

Ivan Copley said that the number of people who speak the Peramangk language is minimal.

“Its restoration hasn’t had as much attention as Kaurna which is well-established and is being taught in schools,” he said.

“There are a lot of words and place names all with stories attached that stretches throughout the Adelaide Hills.

“Unfortunately information disappears and as each year passes more gets lost.

“It’s a responsibility of the community and the government to not let these things break down.”

National Reconciliation Week is May 27 to June 3.

The dates commemorate the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court’s Mabo decision.

Lynne Griffiths the community and cultural development officer with the Adelaide Hills Council said that reconciliation week is an opportunity to share and celebrate the oldest living culture in the world.

“There is a high level of interest from our residents to learn about the Aboriginal heritage and culture of the Hills,” she said.

“We are very excited to be offering a series of workshops with Elder Ivan Copley.

“Ivan has an extensive knowledge of local history and will share information unique to each area where the workshops are held.”

Ivan’s talks begin on May 22 at the Torrens Valley community centre, Gumeracha.

He will then speak at the Summit Community Centre, Norton Summit on May 29, the Hut Community Centre, Aldgate, June 5 and the Mount Barker Community Library, June 12.

Bookings are essential and entry is free.

For more information call the Adelaide Hills Council 8408 0400.

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