Culture on Court and Country

In November last year, Tennis Australia’s “AO on the Road” tour partnered with the Buldau Yioohgen program to bring more community and culture to regional courts across north-east Victoria.

Over four days, the tour saw the Australian Open’s Norman Brookes Challenge Cup (men’s singles) and Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (woman’s singles) trophies travel by boat on the Dungala River (the Murray for white fellas!). The trophies journeyed across traditional lands and made stops at tennis courts in Echuca, Koondrook, Pental Island, and Swan Hill. Each stop featured a community event celebrating culture and tennis for everyone.

Country, and the imparting of cultural values from Elders to Indigenous young people.

“Our young ones being on Country is the start of their own personal healing process. The Dungala trip along the river is a fantastic change for our Aboriginal young people to immerse themselves in culture and connection to Country, and feel empowered and proud of who they are. After a tough couple of years, we are looking forward to working with Tennis Victoria and Tennis Australia ahead of the Australian Open this year.” —Uncle Ian, Cultural Ambassador, AV.

The culture-led partnership between Anglicare Victoria, Tennis Victoria, Tennis Australia, and Buldau Yioohgen aims to provide a unique experience for a group of young people to make a connection to Country, and develop a sense of pride and belonging in their community.

Elders Aunty Pam from Yorta Yorta, Uncle Dixie from Barkunji and Uncle Ron Murray from Wemba-Wemba each welcomed the entourage onto their respective Traditional Lands as the tour progressed. Camping along the river provided profound benefits for the entire mob: being together again after a long two years of social restrictions, opportunities to observe artefacts and cultural landmarks.

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