The day we have all been leading up to has arrived and we are all very excited and encouraged.

We are right in the middle of the festival at the Yulara amphitheatre where over 350 pilgrims and indigenous folk as well as numbers of tourists and residents are enjoying a beautiful, fun filled afternoon.

The young people from around the nation are connecting tremendously well and providing a gift to the community in the form of free activities such as face painting, water balloon volleyball, stilt races, contributing to the community banner and many other family friendly activities.

Many of the young people have never experienced this level of co-operation and harmony – a result of nearly six days of team building and trust activities as well as personal reflection time as they journeyed to Uluru and many will continue to grow as they journey back to their communities.

We are all looking forward to this evenings concert run and performed by pilgrims.

Find the media release and image below for press use.

Senator Nigel Scullion with pilgrims at a national youth forum in Yulara

ATTENTION: News Editor / Chief of Staff

Young people changing communities
Bringing cultures together with hope

Young people representing every state and territory join with the Federal minister to launch National Youth week at the nations’ heart.

Senator Nigel Scullion, the Federal minister responsible for young people, will spend time with young people participating in the annual “pilgrimage to Uluru” as part of the official commencement of National Youth Week 2007. 40 of the over 350 “pilgrims” will engage in a rigorous discussion with the minister on what matters to them and their peers. Then in a symbolic representation of their future relationship, work together to complete an extraordinary 4 x 2 meter hand painted art work from 2pm today at the Yulara amphitheatre.

Hundreds of young people from all over the country participate in the annual ‘Pilgrimage to Uluru’; an initiative of Fusion Australia as part of the ‘Schools in Harmony’ project. This nationwide movement was established by a group of youth workers and educators to help schools and young people learn about working together to build positive cultures and communities.

The Anangu women and children from Mutitjulu have been helping to make a unique artwork to be unveiled at a community concert, which will take place today, April 14 at the Yulara amphitheatre. The banner, which has taken over a week to this point, depicts the story of the pilgrims’ journey from the many different places in Australia to Uluru for the pilgrimage. The painting of the land, vegetation, animals and people of black, white and brown, illustrates how people from all over the world can come and work together. The Anangu women spent considerable time working out how to do each section, especially making sure the message was about everyone everywhere around the world working together in harmony. The banner has words in English, “Bringing young people and communities together with hope,” and Pitjanjatjara, Anangu uwankarakula mukuringama! Pukulpala nyinama tjunguringkula munulanku tjungungku alpamilanma. (English free translation “Let’s love all people! Lets join together and be happy and help one another!”) This special exchange is taking place at Uluru between young Australian pilgrims and the Anangu people of Central Australia.

Now in its seventh year, the pilgrimage is an opportunity for young people to take a journey of reflection to their nation’s heart. Busloads of young people are invited to travel together to the centre of Australia with newfound friends, along with parents, teachers and youth workers. Coaches depart from every state and territory in Australia, and participate in a daily routine of reflection, discussion and creative activity as they travel across the continent to their destination; Uluru. Participants are equipped with resources to assist in the process of reflection including their own personal journal for daily entries. The journal includes a map of Aboriginal Australia, identifying the hundreds of nations that existed before settlement and whose boundaries are crossed every day.

Thursday April 12 was an exciting time at the base camp at Yulara. Six busloads of young people arrived and a special welcoming ceremony took place where each pilgrim put their handprint on a huge 10 metre calico banner to signify their arrival. Students from Pacific Hills Christian College in Sydney also arrived and gave a special welcome to all the pilgrims as they entered Yulara ampitheatre. After dinner everyone gathered together for the first time to welcome each other and celebrate the arrival of the pilgrims. Two buses from Queensland arrived Friday

Since the first journey in 2001 a connection has developed with central Australian indigenous leaders who have extended a warm welcome to children as they have visited the Rock. After their arrival at Uluru, the pilgrims participate in a fun-packed education program which includes cultural exchanges with indigenous students and elders, and a family festival and concert which draws people from around the Uluru region.

The schools in harmony group has spent time at Mutitjulu teaching dances and songs to the children. The women will be singing songs at Saturday’s concert, one of the songs ‘We are one big happy family’. It is very important to the Anangu women that their children learn to sing these songs.

For many the pilgrimage is a profound time of self-discovery arising from an engagement with Aboriginal culture and history and their own spirituality. Participants begin to see themselves more clearly and to view those around them with respect and admiration. It fosters an appreciation of the created world. Some common issues for young people such as alienation, bullying, violence, substance abuse and working at reconciliation are readily addressed through the embracing of values around learning when to be a “rock” (a steady one) and when to be a “stream”, (a flexible one, able to harmonise).

Countless young people have come back from the pilgrimage with very different attitudes from those with which they have set out. Antagonistic ethnic groups within schools have become friends and have been heard discussing how they will communicate the change to their school mates on their return. Many have gained the courage to stand up in their schools in classes and assemblies to tell their peers what the journey has meant for them. Many young people return from the pilgrimage saying they have more respect for aboriginal people and are amazed at what they can teach them.

Fusion Australia is an international youth and community organisation which emerged as a creative response to socially-at-risk young people in the Hornsby region of Sydney in 1960. Fusion today has over 200 staff and thousands of volunteers in 25 centres around Australia, a European base in the United Kingdom and work in Canada, Greece, Indonesia, and the West Indies. While it began as work among youth, the importance of a healthy and caring community to care for each new generation has led Fusion into extensive community work.

Please contact Peter Bradbury 0429 002 713 if you would like some footage or photos from the program for your use.
Ends April 13, 2007

For further information ring: Peter Bradbury, Uluru coordinator (mobile number)
For Photographs: Heather Bradbury

Schools In Harmony, Gordon Street, Poatina Tasmania 7302. Phone 03 6397 8280.
Email: peter.bradbury@ulurupilgrimage.fusion.org.au