New LGBTIQ Friends group builds wellbeing along the Merri Merri
31st January 2022
By Gabriel Aleksandrs
GABRIEL ALEKSANDRS, tells about the formation of the new FoMC subgroup, LGBTIQ Friends of Bababi Djinanang, and that, despite the pandemic affecting many conservation activities, this subgroup continues to grow.
I was saddened and at a bit of a loss after the devastating 2020 bushfires — which almost obliterated some of my favourite childhood places in the Blue Mountains. I was still processing this tragedy when COVID hit. I felt immobilised after I couldn't return and help clean up back home, but the creek was there, so I started weeding there on my own. I was initially just processing grief really.
I began to become familiar with the birds and the animals over time, the plants, the grasses too, and I found it very healing. In between lockdowns I asked others if they wanted to join me.
It turns out that many people were suffering with stress, or grief around the fires, climate change and COVID. I saw the possibility of a group to function as a really positive support to mental health.
As more have come on board via Facebook and assisted in between lockdowns, there is a core group of people attending semi-regular weeding days, mulching the plantings and putting guards up around emerging self-seeding plants. However, now with fewer restrictions and outdoor activities being more COVID safe, I anticipate momentum growing even further into 2022.
We have our first Midsumma event coming up and I can’t wait to see more LGBTIQ people getting involved who — like me — have a keen interest in the environment and bush regeneration.
LGBTIQ populations are also over-represented in poor mental health statistics. I hope that leaning into nature and the environment can help people heal from the impacts of discrimination many of us experience.
LGBTIQ Friends of Bababi Djinanang acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional custodians of the Merri Merri and the core values of the group include the importance of supporting the goals of First Nations land owners.
This will also be the focus of the Midsumma event, which will be guided by Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Elder, Uncle Dave Wandin (accompanied also by ecologists from the Merri Creek Management Committee). He will walk attendees through the grasslands and introduce them to the area's cultural (and ecological) heritage.
It is a core value of this group to recognise and respond to the priorities of First Nations peoples in environmental work. I thought an event like this with Uncle Dave was the ideal way to officially kick off the group for Midsumma. It made sense that the first big event had to be about Aboriginal knowledge and history. I’m really excited about what Uncle Dave has to share and think it’s going to be a great day.
For more information on the event see the Midsumma guide for the LGBTIQ Friends of Bababi Djinanang.
People wanting to join the group can search ‘LGBTIQ Friends of Bababi Djinanang’ on Facebook and can also find the group on instagram under “Queermates of Bababi Djinanang” (handle: lgbtq_bababidjinanang_friends)
There is no group joining fee, rather all new members are encouraged to instead donate to the Wurundjeri Council.
I encourage everyone to read about Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung history: https://www.wurundjeri.com.au/