Connection to community, family and past is a large part of who Aboriginal people are. We are all a product of our ancestors and their experiences, knowing about them allows us a sense of being and stability in my life belonging!
Aboriginal genealogy is physical detective work which involves finding all available information on a family, analysing and filling in the gaps. This is KARI’s Genealogy Department, they are custodians of historical family information about Aboriginal people.
To be able to gain an extensive database of Aboriginal genealogy records, the department have conducted networking with caretakers, knowledge holders and the Elders from across the country and abroad.
KARI’s Genealogy Department holds the paramount records of Aboriginal families and connections which currently exists in the world. KARI understands the importance and privilege of being the custodian of these private records is for our people.
For many years, an extensive reverberates records of Aboriginal families did not exist, or was inaccurate due to several different dynamics. This highlights the importance of the work from the KARI Genealogy Department.
Reconnecting children in out of home care to their heritage and culture is an important part of the work conducted by KARI. Genealogy is more than just tracing a family tree. It is about discovering heritage, creating a story and understanding history.
The work the Genealogy department conducts is very important. It gives our young people the opportunity to entrench their culture into their lives as an Aboriginal person and provide a sense of belonging.
Recently, the Genealogy Department have introduced a database system known as “connection in care”. Connection in care delivers KARI the ability to connect relations and establish a family pathway for our young people.
Information is updated weekly and is helpful in situations where KARI children in care are unable to be returned to immediate family. ‘Connection in Care’ will indicate other families that the children are related to and show their family tree.
Although a child might be placed with a distant relative, within our cultural world, they are still seen as kinship. This is true even if a child is placed with a second cousin or a great Aunty.
‘Connection in Care’ has identified many kinship lines for children. It has helped in situations where children do not have contact with their natural parents as the kinship lines still allow them to have contact with cousins, siblings or half siblings within KARI or show if they’re at another organisation.
Donna, the Head of Genealogy Department said:
I am especially motivated when I or another researcher hits a “brick wall” in their research. I enjoy the challenge of breaking through and continuing the ancestral line.
Collating information and conducting research is an expensive and time consuming process. However, the results reconnecting families and culture are driving extensive positive outcomes.
The Genealogy Department aims to provide children in care with the information that is necessary to helping them find who they are. It is important that all children in care feel a sense of belonging and understand their true identity.
Casey Ralph, KARI CEO said:
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The work Donna has done has been so significant, we’ve found that out of 470 kids in KARI’s care, 52% are blood related. We have cousins, aunties and uncles and brothers and sisters who have found they’re related through the Genealogy Department.
The work that Donna and her Genealogy team conduct reconnecting children is having the ability to change the cultural and belonging connection for our children in care. Even though the government currently does not fund any aspect of this program, KARI’s Senior Leadership and Board understand the importance that Genealogy plays in the lives of our children and will ensure that this department is continually funded and resourced.
Via thorough research and vital connections made through this research, the Genealogy Department at KARI have connections to land councils and Elder groups across the nations. These connections are especially valuable as the Elders can inform the department of the families within their community and make initial contact.
Many Aboriginal children in care have a few questions about where they come from, these include:
- Do you know where I’m from?
- Do you know my Mob?
- What is my Totem?
We aim to give the young people and children in KARI Out of Home Care the connection to their families and show them their kinship lines. Once they have a cultural connection through their family tree, some of the questions above can be answered. It’s about reminding the youth of who they are and where they’ve come from.
If you’d like to get involved with KARI’s Genealogy Department, please contact email@example.com