Reconciliation in action

Healing is central to the work of the Baabayn Aunties in Western Sydney. They envision a vibrant future built on shared culture and connections.


By Sue Martin,
Project Officer, Care for our Common Home Committee at Jesuits Australia

If you want to see reconciliation in action and you’re in the vicinity of Western Sydney, just visit the Jesuit parish of Holy Family Mt Druitt, where the Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation has its home.

I am always welcomed in every sense, physically and spiritually, by the Baabyn Aunties – Jenny, Daisy, Elaine and Lynette. These women, the Baabayn founders, were originally a group of five, but Aunty Margaret died last year. To me, the Aunties are reconciliation in action, because they know what their community needs – healing.

Not surprisingly, healing comes as part of a two-way reconciliation process. I am always welcomed into the Baabayn family and that is very special to me, because it is a way to heal my soul and help me better connect with God in all things, making our place special. Furthermore, the Aunties want to see Baabayn contributing to a future that is confident and vibrant, with an emphasis on sharing culture and connection to Country with all.

The Baabayn Aunties (from left) Jenny, Daisy, Elaine and Lynette launching the book ‘Why are our Children Proud to be Aboriginal’, featuring beautiful paintings, in April this year.

As the Baabayn website explains, their aim is to provide “a place of healing, where Aboriginal people connect with culture and have a strong sense of belonging so they will be able to recover from past traumas, regain their self-esteem and realise their potential.”

Their main purpose is to support people on their respective healing journeys and show them ways to build towards the future. As the Aunties say: “We work as a group to support individuals; we seek to build our people’s pride in who they are, their sense of belonging, and their sense of connectedness to community and culture.”

In this place founded on love and dedication, they:

  • Nurture local Aboriginal people’s confidence, self-esteem, spirituality and knowledge of their culture;
  • Provide a supportive, healing, low-stress environment for local Aboriginal people;
  • Promote networking and help people to link up and make meaningful connections;
  • Form lasting partnerships for the more effective support of disadvantaged people;
  • Assist, and advocate for, people who are struggling in their dealings with government departments, etc.

As I’ve found when I visit, there is always a special atmosphere when the Aunties are around. For me it’s not just a Sunday parish – it’s a place where there is something happening all the time, where the vibe is just like a wonderful, inviting village.

Two months ago, they hosted a wonderful event, with the young mothers’ group launching their book, ‘Why are our Children Proud to be Aboriginal’, It is full of paintings by the mums, a beautiful and amazing achievement. The book launch was a day of celebration, with lots of food, activities for the kurungs (kids) including boomerang painting and traditional weaving, when all in the community were invited.

In Australia, the contemplative practice of Dadirri – inner deep listening and quiet still awareness – assists with our connection not just to place but to each other as well, building a culture of reconciliation in action. Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, an Aboriginal elder from the Nauiyu Northern Territory and a renowned artist, activist and writer, as well as the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year, defines Dadirri in memorable terms. She says it is

“To breathe with me, to listen deeply, to connect to the sound of deep calling to deep. The deep inner spring inside us, we call on it, and it calls on us.”

Her words find a strong echo in a call from the Baabayn Aunties to deeply listen, to hear the creator spirit in all of creation, as well as in myself and in those around me, sharing the journey while growing a sense of place in Western Sydney and filling it with love.

The original version of this story was written for the Reconciliation edition of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) newsletter.

Banner image by Andrea Izzotti, Canva.


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