Deaf Children Australia (DCA) partnered with Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) for a Deaf Aboriginal Cultural Family Camp at Gariwerd (Grampians) National Park from 26 – 28 October. We ran fun cultural, social and recreation activities that aimed to strengthen participants’ sense of identity as proud young deaf indigenous people.
Desiree attended the camp with her nieces Jada (aged 13) and Alkira (aged 11) as their mum and dad had just had a baby. Desiree shared how they felt: “It was an amazing camp. Jada really came out of her shell and found her place. She felt others around her had so much in common with her. Apart from a few kids at school, Jada doesn’t spend time with other kids who are deaf. Amongst our family and friends, she is the only one who is deaf and if we’re not checking up on her, I feel like she slips away.
She really connected with the other kids and following the camp, she wants to learn more sign. It would be great if the whole extended family could learn more. It was so good for us to meet other families with deaf kids and learn more about deafness. The visit to the Brambuk Cultural Centre was great, creating handprints, painting boomerangs and talking about identity.
Alkira really enjoyed camp too, seeing how other kids live with their deafness. For a change, Jada could be more independent of Alkira on camp. When we arrived on the Friday night, the girls were complaining that there was no TV but then they were playing lots of games and bonding with others. And by the next morning, the kids were out looking for kangaroos and having fun.
On Sunday, we all felt so comfortable with each other and no one wanted to leave. We just wished it could have been longer. I told my sister in law and brother that it was so fantastic and they have to go to the next camp – but I want to come too. It was just awesome.
At the Primary Deaf Sports Carnival, Jada was so excited to catch up with people she had met on camp. She said she would love to catch up with youth worker Nicollette again and shoot basketballs with her – so we hope she can access youth mentoring soon.” The Family Camp was available to school aged Victorian children and their families at no cost through the generous support of the Department of Education and Training Victoria.