Dr Heron Loban welcomes Griffith staff to a traditional Torres Strait feast

A group of Griffith Law School staff recently attended a cultural immersion workshop hosted by Torres Strait Islander and senior law lecturer Dr Heron Loban.

Supported by the Indigenous Research Unit, the workshop focused on Mabuyag culture, located in the western group of islands in the Torres Strait and forms part of a review into Griffith’s law curriculum.

Heron leads a working group assessing how Indigenous content is embedded in Griffith’s undergraduate law curriculum. They are expected to report their findings by the end of the year.

“We’ve been asked to look at our law degree and see how we can do a better job of being more inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and law,” said Heron.

With the workshop Heron wanted her colleagues to better understand Mabuyag culture, language and law. She also wanted to show how she integrates that knowledge into teaching students of her Native Title course.

“I’ve bought in two of my elders from Mabuyag [Brian Whap and Matilda Bani] which is where I’m from, to share a little about us,” said Heron.

According to Heron, despite being an introduction for members of the working group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from around Griffith expressed interest in attending.

Thomas Bani-Burke and Jordan Bani-Burke perform a traditional Torres Strat Islander dance for Griffith staff

“It reflects to me how precious the knowledge is and how rare it is to have access to people with that knowledge,” said Heron.

Workshop attendees were immersed in Mabuyag’s rich history through storytelling, weaving activities and learning to sing ‘Baba Waiar’, in the Kala Lagaw Ya language, a popular sacred song from the Torres Strait Islands.

The workshop concluded with a traditional Torres Strait Island feast which included traditional singing and dancing.

“We’ve brought the larger Griffith community together to share in this food and to continue celebrating our unique Torres Strait Islander culture,” said Heron.

Griffith University Council of Elder member Aunty Vicki-Ann Speechley-Golden and Professor Boni Robertson (Director of the Office of Indigenous Community Engagement, Policy and Partnershipsand Acting Professor of Indigenous Research) also attended.