The enormous contribution to Lake Macquarie of Aboriginal people past and present is celebrated at a new exhibition at SEEN@Swansea.
Awaba: Know Our Stories profiles elders, artists and everyday families who call Lake Macquarie home, from youths full of hope and promise to seniors who grew up in a time when racism and segregation were entrenched in Australian society.
More than 4% of Lake Macquarie residents identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – a significantly higher proportion than the national and NSW average.
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said those who featured in the exhibition hailed from across the city.
“This exhibition aims to break down barriers and stereotypes with images and stories of Indigenous people in Lake Macquarie,” Cr Fraser said.
“These are people who contribute so much to the fabric of our community.”
Among those featured in the exhibition is Aboriginal educator, activist and artist Uncle Noel Simon.
Mr Simon, who teaches youths about Aboriginal culture and traditions, said it was important to learn from history to ensure the same mistakes are not made twice.
“As long as I’m teaching somebody, I’m happy because I know my words are getting passed along,” he said.
“You need to know stuff that’s been in your past, even all the bad, bad stuff. You need to know that and build on that and prevent that from happening to your kids.”
Aboriginal elder, activist and retired health worker Auntie Zelma Moran said things had changed since she moved to Lake Macquarie from Armidale in 1972.
“We broke the racism down here. We talk up, and that’s why it is a good place to live in now,” she said.
Community worker and mother-of-three Lyn Milson outlined the importance of keeping Aboriginal culture alive.
“I want my kids to know who they are and where they’re from,” she said.
Awaba: Know Our Stories is on exhibition at SEEN@Swansea until Sunday 25 October. Entry is free.