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  • Writer's pictureKado Muir

The Elders Apprentice: Mundanarra Bayles

Ep. 5 My Culture Story - Elders Apprentice: Mundanarra Bayles (audio link)

Kado Muir 0:00

Welcome back to My Culture Story. In this episode, we have a very special guest. The amazing, Mundanarra or Mara Bayles

Kado Muir 0:16

So Mara please tell My Culture mob a little bit about yourself, who are you? And where are you from?

Mundanarra Bayles 0:19

No worries, Uncle, I guess.

Mundanarra Bayles 0:24

I think first and foremost you know, I should be paying respects to the people's land that I'm on at the moment. It's just Gumatj people on North East Arhnemland, yeah, and pay respects to their elders past and present. And so thank you very much for having me on your show. I born and raised in Redfern, one of eight daughters, my mother's people Wanaruah/ bundjalung, people in New South Wales, and my father's people come from Central Queensland, the Birri Gubba people, the Wuri clan of the Birri Gubba people and also Gangalu people from the Dawson river, born and raised in Redfern and I live in Brisbane. And I guess, you know, I started a business with my grandmother sister Aunty Lilla. Couple years ago,

Kado Muir 1:08

well tell us a little bit about your business.

Mundanarra Bayles 1:11

It was sort of a company called The Black Card and I guess, you know, education, training, mentoring consulting, I guess we just work with organizations to develop their people, you know, based on our knowledge and our terms of reference. So, you know, all that HR stuff. If we're looking at mediation or mentoring or even conflict, what I call the conflict resolution, we call it conflict management. Conflict Management is how do we manage conflict based on our terms of reference, instead of how do we resolve it, you know.

Kado Muir 1:11

And our terms of reference, it's another way of saying our culture

Mundanara Bayles 1:11

It definitely is. And it's even more than that. It's saying, look at the 10s of thousands of years that we lived in this country and look at all of that knowledge, that either developed or evolved after we have been living in this country. And that knowledge we refer to, as Aboriginal terms of reference and Aunty Lilla first wrote about it back in her University of Queensland days. And the speaks about of everything uncle when you think about our governance structure, where our Elders sit and What is our community? You know, what is what is community in Aboriginal terms of reference? What is an individual in

Mundanarra Bayles 2:30

Aboriginal terms of reference? Very different from a western terms of reference.

Mundanarra Bayles 2:33

Talking about that,

Kado Muir 2:34

I think one of the things Mundanarra about your experiences is, you're actually working with your elders. So you're doing your your elder service. Tell us a little about that.

Mundanarra Bayles 2:46

Yes, well you can say Uncle, In the Western world, I'm serving my apprenticeship.

Kado Muir 2:49


Mundanarra Bayles 2:50

So I guess, you know, the Western world that made me the CEO and in the Aboriginal world, I was still an apprentice , serving my apprenticeship. So yeah, I think it's important that for all of us, especially, you know, what we're doing some important work with, you know, working with the corporate sector, and some of the biggest corporations in this country, around Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal society, Aboriginal philosophy, and all of that knowledge, especially when you're engaging with Black Card comes directly from my old people, that’s knowledge that’s been past down over generations. So and it's also important to understand that the Elders are

Mundanarra Bayles 3:30

the authority that the cultural authority

Kado Muir 3:36

Exactly yeah, well it’s something that I relate to, because I'm at the other end of the spectrum to you I was, I done my apprentice to my elders for the past 30 years, and

Kado Muir 3:47

sadly, you know, you're free from that when your elders passed away, and you finalise and finish the jobs they set up for you to do. So I'm at the other end of the spectrum, and I just want to important for the listeners to know and understand that

Kado Muir 4:06

from a cultural perspective.

Kado Muir 4:10

Our, young Aboriginal people, we have this very lucky opportunity to work with our elders. And, you know, I'd like to remind the listeners who may be young Aboriginal people go out and find your elders and work with them, give them the service that they deserve, and you in turn will become a very empowered person.

Mundanarra Bayles 4:10

yeah, and Just culturally strong, yes. We’re walking in these two worlds that, you know, the Western world and the Aboriginal world. And if we, if we don't consolidate what our terms of are reference is, you know, and stand strong on our own two feet , it's quite easy to get kind of consumed by that Western world? Well,

Kado Muir 4:53

no, absolutely. So where are you now Mundanarra

Mundanarra Bayles 4:56

look out I'm standing

Mundanarra Bayles 4:59

On Country at Yirrkala

Mundanarra Bayles 5:04

Yirrkala, Yothu Yindi that famous band

Kado Muir 5:08

Ahh so what takes you up there

Mundanarra Bayles 5:08

So I actually was invited for the very first time

Mundanarra Bayles 5:13

All my life wanted to come here

Mundanarra Bayles 5:15

Invited by one of our clients PwC, to come along with them and experience the Garma festival. The festival that I'm pretty sure has been going on for about 21 years. And that has come along. And, you know, with the corporate, and I guess, for me, there was two things for me to understand. These corporates are engaging with in terms of sending their very high level executives to Garma the festival. Yes, you know, what are they experiencing here? Because when I talked to organizations, and they were doing Garma, I had no idea what they're getting out of it. Come here, and experience that first, first hand. Second of all, I get to connect with a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, people from around the country that are even Garma veterans, I mean, coming over here. Even just meeting up with other deadly black fellows around the country.

Kado Muir 5:15

Its an important date in Cultural calendar for both the corporate world and the Aboriginal world in Australia. Isn’t it.

Mundanarra Bayles 5:15

And, you know, I think it is now that I've been here. I would agree with you. But before coming here, I don’t think I would have agreed, because I didn’t what people do here, I thought it was just, you know, an event with a corporate sector send all their executives, and they make them feel good. And they have this deadly experience. But I hope it wasn't reinforcing you know, the myth that Aboriginal people only live in remote communities.

Kado Muir 6:52

Yeah. Yeah, so who have you met there?

Mundanarra Bayles 6:53

Ah look. I seen the deadly Aunty Pat Turner deliver about the closing the gap stuff and how important these partnerships are with the corporate world and the Aboriginal controlled organizations, these partnerships need to happen. I heard Noel Pearson talk about the Constitutional Reform stuff. I heard a deadly fella called Thomas Mayor, hes from Darwin when he was talking about the Uluru statement from the heart. And I guess for the first time now I really, I now get it of what's happening around this Uluru statement for that I didn't get it before. I think the media has kind of misinformed the public about this Uluru statement from the heart and a lot of our backs up against the wall, but to hear it firsthand, and to sit there and listen to people ask questions, and the way that he was able to answer them was quite inspirational and quite moving to see a deadly young man. You know, talk about this Uluru Statement from the heart. So I’ve learnt about that.

Kado Muir 8:01

What can you say about the hosts?

Mundanarra Bayles 8:04

What can I say about?

Mundanarra Bayles 8:06

The hosts, your on …

Mundanarra Bayles 8:09

The Gumatj people and the Yolngu people and the different Clans around here? Well, I could tell you one thing. When I was a young girl, that 10 years old, a lady came to a house by the name of Mudikuwari. And I call her my muku which was Auntie, and Mudikuwari I came to our house in Brisbane and she taught us the traditional dances from the Yirritja clan, yes, right of the Gumatj. And she painted us up my seven sisters and I told us you are Djulpan which is seven sisters. And we then formed a traditional Aboriginal dance group doing the Gumatj dances for that about fifteen years across Brisbane and even toured New Zealand. So me coming to Garma was much more than a festival, I actually reconnected family that I have 25 years in the waiting to actually come here and see Mudikuwari. And now I'm 36 and not 11 years old. It's been quite emotional. So today, since I'm going to get up and dance because I did these dances for 15 years. And now I'll be here on this country. And it's an amazing experience.

Mundanarra Bayles 9:25

Wow, Well, that sounds amazing. So we’re nearly out of time Mara

Mundanarra Bayles 9:28

is there anything else you'd like to share with My Culture Mob out there?

Mundanarra Bayles 9:33

Look, I want to reinforce what you said uncle, these old people. And it's been said many many times here at this festival. We we don't have a long time out people are dying, you know as many 30, whatever years earlier than other Australians. So if we're still losing people in that gap of life expectancy is only widening, then I want to reinforce what you said we need to start connecting with them all people and we need to sit down with them and make time for them, and hear their stories and hopefully we would be much more, you know, culturally rich, much more stronger and much more resilient. If we sit down and hear their stories.

Kado Muir 10:14

Yeah So My Culture Mob out there, who are listening to My Culture Story podcast, this is a very important message from Mundanarra Bayles, reconnect with your old people. Find out find out what they would like you to do, and go out there and help them do serve your apprenticeship.

Mundanarra Bayles 10:33

I love how you put it Uncle and it's been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be on your show. So thank you very much. Thank you and I'll see you around the traps some where

Mundanarra Bayles 10:48

Sign off.

My Culture Story Transcript, copyright 2019 Kado Muir, Marnta Pty Ltd

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