BDM’s first Aboriginal graduate, Cienan Muir, chose the name ‘coolamon’ for this strategy. It symbolises the services that BDM offers community members at key life stages. The coolamon has different symbolic meanings and uses in different groups in Victoria. Creation stories about the coolamon may differ. We have used a broad definition of the coolamon.
A coolamon is a traditional Aboriginal carrying vessel with curved sides. Their shape, like a canoe, suggests the journey of life. They are traditionally used to support many points of that journey. Coolamons involve all members of the community: traditionally, men make them and women use them. Their uses include:
- Cradling babies
- Carrying water, fruits or nuts
- Winnowing grains in the traditional bread-making process
- Protection from rain.
Preserving the identity of individuals and their connections with each other is at the heart of our services. Similarly, coolamons are symbols of identity. They are often decorated with totemic or other designs representing the extended family of the people using them.
The coolamon is built to endure. It is typically made from hardwood, such as mallee, and tempered to withstand heat and stress. This quality represents BDM’s role of preserving Victorians’ life records in perpetuity. The significance of coolamons in ceremonies is like the significance of the life events in BDM’s records. Finally, the origins of the coolamon—wood removed from a part of the tree that will not harm the life of the tree. This is the aim that BDM would like to represent. BDM respects the integrity of the life events it records, and the people involved in them.
The rounded sides of the coolamon echo the evolutions of community life. They are reminders of traditional sacred circles. For some communities this translates to leaving family disagreements and community issues outside. It reminds them to focus on the business they need to do. In a similar way, BDM seeks to work with Aboriginal community members, organisations and others to get the business of registration completed. BDM seeks to extend its services to all Victorian Aboriginal people.
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Coolamon Strategy 2019-21 contents
- Welcome to the Coolamon Strategy
- The significance of the coolamon
- The importance of BDM services
- Purpose of the Coolamon Strategy 2019-21
- Strong identity, strong spirit in practice
- Supporting our Aboriginal customers
- Removing financial barriers for Aboriginal customers
- Building trust and confidence in BDM services