How this young man found a positive from being racially abused

INDIGENOUS CULTURE: Indigenous Glenlyon resident Will Austin participates in the cultural mentoring program Warran Warran Maar (boy to man).
INDIGENOUS CULTURE: Indigenous Glenlyon resident Will Austin participates in the cultural mentoring program Warran Warran Maar (boy to man).

A passionate Glenlyon resident has used an incident of racial abuse as inspiration to share his indigenous culture with the Daylesford community.

Will Austin, 21, claimed he was racially abused while cutting a knot from a gumtree to make a traditional smoking bowl. Mr Austin said had permission from Dja Dja Warrung elders to create traditional tools from wood on the land. 

After posting about the incident on the Daylesford Community Noticeboard Facebook page, Mr Austin said he was overwhelmed by support from the community and was inspired to run community workshops about indigenous culture. 

“My passion is crafting traditional tools and instruments. Being out on country and connecting to my indigenous culture is something I value a lot,” he said. 

“I am just overwhelmed by the response from the community and I want the positive out of it to over-shine that one negative little situation.”

Mr Austin has been vocal in advocating for indigenous rights, working with young people in indigenous affairs and participating in indigenous rights movements and protests. He said he had run cultural workshops and been involved in indigenous organisations outside of Daylesford, but the experience of racial abuse triggered a desire to share his culture in his home town. 

“Too often people think that Aboriginal culture is dead, it’s gone and it doesn’t exist. One of the abusive comments was ‘your culture is not alive, it doesn’t exist’, so I am taking that as a bit of motivation to show people that it is alive – to run the workshops and to educate community,” Mr Austin said. 

“It is not about me teaching everyone the right way or everything to do with Aboriginal culture, I think it is more about just creating that space for people to come together. Our culture is all about connecting with each other and being on the same level and people having a space to share their stories.”

Mr Austin is currently in the process of discussing ideas for indigenous cultural workshops with those interested and working to organise the meetings.