Creating a place to connect to community and culture

The Karulbo Yarning Circle in Logan is a place for sharing, storytelling and healing. It is also a place where young people involved in the youth justice system can be supported to change their story.

Driven by local Elders and supported by community organisations, the circle was developed specifically for young people living at supervised community accommodation in Logan.

It is a safe place for young people to speak their minds without fear and an opportunity for them to reconnect with culture and community.

Yarning circle in bush setting

Elder Uncle Noel Summers said Elders wanted a space for young people that would give them the opportunity to build a strong foundation of what culture is, and what it should mean to them.

“When you have your culture, you have your identity. You know who you are. It gives a sense of belonging and connects you with your people,” said Uncle Noel.

“I aim for action. Aim to make a difference to one life. One person. Each and every time. That chance to change someone is enough for me.”

The yarning circle was named the Karulbo Yarning Circle, as under the traditional Yugambeh language ‘Karulbo’ translates to ‘all together’.

Youth Justice staff, young people and local community groups came together to create the cultural space by hand. It features native bush tucker and medicinal plants.

The Karulbo Yarning Circle is now home to discussions about the importance of a young person’s totems, how to earn respect and the importance of connection to community.

The first step involves young people nominating themselves for an introductory yarn on the yarning circle with an Elder or respected person, before going on to explore their culture together.

They are also given the privilege of being custodians of this special place.

Being given this role has moved some young people to tears, as it means an Elder has deemed them suitable to hold the responsibility and title.  

A naming ceremony for the cultural space in July 2019 brought more than 80 locals together in a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages, as part of the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

At the ceremony, a 17-year-old boy overcame his initial nerves to perform a song he wrote thanking an Elder for making him the first official custodian of the space.

Highlights of this significant cultural event included a Welcome to Country by Yugambeh Elder and Traditional Owner, Aunty Robyn Williams, a smoking ceremony and traditional dancers from the Yerongpan and Malu Kiai dance groups.

A senior cultural capability officer from the Youth Justice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Unit coordinated the project in consultation with stakeholders including:

  • Logan Elders
  • Yugambeh Museum
  • Murrigunyah
  • Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • Logan City Council
  • Anglicare Southern Queensland
  • Bunnings SEQ
  • Headspace
  • YourTown
  • local schools.