NAIDOC Week Celebrations are commencing this Sunday, and there is already a lot of buzz about the annual Mini Ball.
The children’s ball is an opportunity for locals to come together and create “beautiful community connection,” explains Noeleen Ryan Lester, one of the event organisers.
The dance is a “very interactive, wiggle-type presentation. The children have a fantastic time.”
“It’s a successful event”, adds Anne Rosewarne, the other event organiser. “Last year we had nearly 380 children, parents, carers and staff!”
The community event always pulls a significant and diverse crowd.
In past years, families were coming from all over; driving up from Adelaide and even coming across from Ceduna.
Anne and Noeleen are from the Family Relationship Centre, and have been busy planning the event.
“It’s the busiest time of the year for us, when we’re not doing other things” they laugh.
This is just one of the organisation’s NAIDOC events; they’re also engaging with 17 different schools for a boomerang colouring-in competition. 2,700 boomerangs will be sent out as far as Oodnadatta and Maree, as well as Hawker, Quorn and all Port Augusta schools.
The Mini Ball, which has been held for the last seven years, is a very special event for everyone in the region.
“Non-aboriginal community members attend too. It’s a good space for [everyone] to get together and create community harmony,” says Noeleen.
One of the reasons the dance is so popular is due to the “very clever entertainer”, Tiffany, who has been involved with the ball for the past three years. With three miniature microphones and dance competitions held throughout the night, she’s a big hit with the kids.
“The children just get straight into it and they love it. She’s in her element.”
Tiffany, though based in Adelaide, is said to be a Port Augusta local, which adds a nice touch to the event.
Each year NAIDOC Week has a theme, and event organisers are asked to incorporate it into their celebrations.
For 2019 the theme is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s Work Together For A Shared Future.’
Both Anne and Noeleen confess it can be “tricky” to capture the theme and make it accessible for kids.
It’s best to “do it visually” for younger children, which is why you may find this year’s theme in the form of artistic placemats.
The dress code for this year has also been set as formal.
This is a chance for families to have a lovely family photo, and the attire adds to the “specialness of the event.”
“Aboriginal communities have specifically asked for attire to be formal, but we’re flexible,” says Noeleen. “If people want to come dressed as their favourite character, they can. [We want] to make it inclusive.”
With the support of Centacare Catholic Family Services and Uniting Country SA, the Mini Ball will be held at the West Augusta Football Club on Wednesday, 10th July – just in time for the school holidays!
The event starts from 5:30pm, and the entry tickets (which are free) will be available from the Family Relationship Centre from Monday, 8th July, or you can get them at the door.
Event photos courtesy of Anne Rosewarne
Disco ball photo photo courtesy of it's me neosiam, pexels