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The Womin Djeka Balnarring Ngargee is a unique Community run Family Festival that Honors and Celebrates First Peoples Cultures.

The festival is presented by Balnarring Preschool and has the support of Boon Wurrung Elder –N’Arwee’t Dr.Carolyn Briggs.

First Peoples cultures will be shared through: Welcome to Country; both traditional and contemporary musicians and dancers; storytelling; language; cultural workshops; market stalls; art and a children’s activity area.

The Ngargee will take place on Saturday March 2nd, 2024 at Emu Plains Reserve Balnarring. My special guest today is Karen Anderson to yarn about the festival.

Karen Anderson has been a kindergarten teacher at Balnarring Pre-school since 1984. In 2011 Karen began taking the children to the beach and bush as a regular part of the program.

It became apparent that connecting the children with nature was becoming a major component of the centre philosophy resulting in the Learning and Living with Nature philosophy being adopted. In 2022 this program was gifted a Boon Wurrung Name Ngarnga Biik. Karen has a strong commitment to connecting children with nature and First Peoples cultures.

Karen was the founder of the Bundjil Nest Project which commenced in 2014 which has seen the development of the Womindjeka Balnarring Ngargee (festival). This festival celebrates and honours First Peoples cultures.

In 2022 the Bundjil Nest conference was held. This conference is totally delivered by First Nations people and attracted 160 teachers from Early Childhood to University level. Karen has co-authored the publication ‘Early Years Learning in Australian Natural Environments’.

Of note this year, we have a line up being finalised that includes a well-known performer, Mitch Tambo, as well as fostering and supporting emerging talent with Bumpy, Alf the Great and Charlie Needs Braces .

We have an array of workshops presented by First Peoples that share Culture and promote Connection to Country. Our story is a positive one that celebrates reconciliation at a truly grass roots level by facilitating connections and learning between the community and First Peoples. It is also a project that celebrates the power of learning with children being the driving force in getting the entire community connected with First Peoples cultures.

The biggest challenge we face this year is funding. It is our vision that this event will remain free (entry is by donation) ensuring that finances are not a barrier to participation especially for the Indigenous community, however we may not be able to continue unless ongoing sponsorship is identified.


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