ICC Sydney Launches Yarning Circle Series to Connect with First Nations

5th Jul, 2023

International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has marked National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, with the launch of ‘Yarning Circles’ – a celebration of the vast knowledge, leadership and legacy of First Nations Elders, delivered in collaboration with its community partners KARI. 

Kicking off this week, Yarning Circles will be held on the first Tuesday of every month until December 2023, and build upon the cultural awareness of ICC Sydney’s team members by introducing them to a range of traditional Aboriginal cultural practices including weaving, artefact making, dance, stories and conversations. 

The weaving workshop delivered by Anna Gannon, Cultural Support and Training Specialist at KARI and attended by proud Dharawal Elder Aunty Maxine Ryan, was a unique opportunity for the venue team to learn about the ancient art of weaving, connecting them directly with Aboriginal artists to not only practice this skill, but to converse and learn from their stories and experiences.

ICC Sydney will broaden participation in the Yarning Circles events to now include event organisers and stakeholders that may be interested in also introducing these important engagement activities into their business practices and events, while adding the experience to its Legacy Programme. 

ICC Sydney CEO and Group Director - Convention Centres, ASM Global (APAC), Geoff Donaghy said his team stood alongside its First Nations community partner KARI and hoped that this project demonstrated another way in which the venue team was committed to reconciliation.

“Our gratitude goes to KARI and the First Nations Elders who have taken the time to share knowledge with our team from our pre-opening period right through to this week’s Yarning Circle. 

“As an iconic destination, which stands and operates on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation – the land of Tumbalong and the waterway of Gomora, on what is known today as Darling Harbour – ICC Sydney strives to truly reconcile with First Nations People through our business practices and the commitments we have made through our second Reconciliation Action Plan.
“Through Yarning Circles, we aim to build cultural competency in our team members, and to educate and inspire our clients, visitors and local community to do the same. In striving for reconciliation through this practice, we hope to connect our team with the rich knowledge of First Nations Elders and community members that has been passed down over tens of thousands of years, as well as their vibrant, contemporary lived stories and experiences.

“In time, and through our Legacy Program, we hope to inspire event planners to engage KARI to provide this dynamic and enriching experience for their attendees as they tap into the profound resource of First Nations Elders,” Mr. Donaghy said.

Chief Operating Officer of the KARI, Cain Slater said, “As COO of KARI, it’s been a great honour to work collaboratively with the team at ICC Sydney on creating the culturally inclusive Yarning Circles event series.

“As a long time partner of ICC Sydney, KARI welcomed this opportunity to deepen our relationship with the team to deliver Yarning Circles where we will introduce visitors to the traditions of our revered Elders and broader community,” Mr Slater said.

NAIDOC Week recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations Peoples, cultures and histories, both ancient and contemporary. This year’s NAIDOC week theme ‘For Our Elders’ highlights how Elders are a fundamental part of First Nations communities.

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