Last month on World Kangaroo Day, October 24, I was honoured to attend a Yuin Ceremony at Wild2Free Inc. – Kangaroo Sanctuary celebrating the gorgeous, gentle creature that is the kangaroo.
The event was organised by Yuin Elder Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, kangaroo carer Rae Harvey, and charity Kangaroos Alive, all of whom gave incredible evidence at the recent NSW kangaroo inquiry.
Uncle Max welcomed us to Yuin Country for the beautiful occasion, and in turn, every guest had their hand painted in three white dots of ochre – representing body, mind, and spirit – and then walked through gentle plumes of smoke, welcoming us to Country. We then watched and listened to ancient Yuin songs and dances, including one that celebrated the life and social culture of kangaroos, and looked on as nine holes were dug, watered, and filled with soft, new grass for kangaroos – a gentle, thoughtful act of environmental stewardship.
It was a privilege to join Uncle Max and his family on Yuin Country on this extraordinary day, and an honour to receive a message stick passed from Uncle Max’s hands to mine: the Yuin Declaration for Kangaroos.
The declaration contains 7 articles that acknowledge the sentience, intelligence, and ancient history of kangaroos, and the spiritual, cultural, and environmental connection First Nations people have with kangaroos – a connection that has continued for many thousands of years, entwined in totemic lore.
The declaration recognises that kangaroos have their own songlines, language, culture and dreaming, and that since colonisation they have also come to represent Australia as a national icon. The declaration declares kangaroos as national treasures, and calls on federal and state law to protect them with no exemption, so that kangaroos “shall not be sold or subjected to any inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment”.