Binang Goonj, is from the Bidjera language in South West Queensland. It means ‘“you hear but don’t listen”. We have adopted the phrase to inform the development of a generic model of cross-cultural education and training.
Our company, Cross Cultural Consultants was established in 1991 with the mandate to build bridges between Aboriginal communities, organisations and professions. Our team was commissioned by the Federal government to develop an accredited distance education course to increase non-Aboriginal health professionals’ awareness of the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people. Review of the materials, particularly by Aboriginal colleagues, saw the launch of the first edition of Binang Goonj: Bridging Cultures in Aboriginal Health in 1992.
Numerous community health workers and others working in Aboriginal Health and education asked us to workshop the key principles and concepts of Binang Goonj so they could adapt them to their local community and professional orientation programs. We are currently reviewing Binang Goonj processes and resources in terms of changes in communication technologies as well as the economic and political landscape in Aboriginal Australia. We would welcome your ideas/feedback on what you see as important.
Binang Goonj, first and foremost, is a team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal friends who have worked in partnership for over 20 years to make a difference in cross cultural relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
If Binang Goonj teaches us anything, it is that the history of Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal interactions and its repercussions today cannot be ignored. Despite rhetoric and political promises, Aboriginal life chances continue to lag behind those of non-Aboriginal Australians. There is however, a different narrative emerging that is informed more and more by Aboriginal people whose voices in the past have not been heeded.
Marcia Langton (2012) points out that the majority of Australians have remained ignorant of the reasons for the high levels of disadvantage that Indigenous people face, both because the reasons are complex, and because there is a wealth of disinformation as well as irrational belief about Aboriginal people in circulation. Our goal, in consultation with Aboriginal people, is to continue to help turn this situation around and, in the process, to showcase the levels of cultural vitality and resilience which characterise many Aboriginal communities and families.
Binang Goonj offers a process to enable you to discover culturally safe ways to engage in a journey of discovery, not only about Australian history and society but also about yourself. It provides tools to help facilitate understanding within and between different cultures.
We invite you to “Yarn with Us” to keep the dialogue on track.
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