Thank you to Uncle Michael O’Brien, who is a Senior Kaurna man, for leading the occasion for us. We were also joined by Penny Wright, Guardian from the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People and staff from Street to Home.

The event took place in HYPA’s Trace-A-Place, which houses our service for young people experiencing homelessness. Recognising NAIDOC Week and hosting a Smoke Ceremony here was important to generate a sense of inclusiveness and trust with Aboriginal Community members. We want all young people to feel safe in this space and are always exploring new ways to make this a reality for every individual.

Uncle Michael explained the rich meaning and symbolism behind fire and smoke, that extends beyond just cleansing a space. Fire is a mechanism for heat, comfort, protection, cooking and gatherings. It was very fitting to have this ceremony at Trace-A-Place where so many young people experiencing instability come to experience those things – warmth, food, protection and community.

A group of around 15 young people joined in the event and shared a meal together enthusiastically. Conversations with these young people, staff, and visitors allowed us to increase our understanding of the value of cultural connections to all of our work at Trace-A-Place.

One young woman in our midst displayed her bravery during the event, as she read Kaurna dreaming story, Kondili’s fire, aloud:

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2018 is Because of Her We Can to recognise the important role of women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. In keeping with this theme Uncle Michael O’Brien says that he is where he is today, because of his grandmother, Gladys Elphick. She was the founding president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, which became the Aboriginal Council of South Australia in 1973.