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The Art of Basket Weaving in Remote Aged Care
I have been going remote as a PCA for over 5 years with Healthcare Australia, and I love interacting with people from different cultures in remote communities.
I first learnt basket weaving in Kintore, NT years ago. When I was on an HCA placement last year in Wadeye, NT the aged care clients taught me how to strip the sand palm, dye it and prepare for weaving. It is a fascinating process, using what is available in the environment – first you dye the sand palm with a tree root, which is yellow or grass which is red. You can mix them together and change the colours with ash.
One with the Community
I really got involved in basket weaving and I started teaching staff, clients and community members how to weave. I loved getting them involved in old cultural activities; it is a form of medicine because it makes them feel connected to their land and culture.
One of the board members in Wadeye is in a wheelchair and is so grateful we taught her how to weave as she tells me ‘this gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning’. Many of the community members bond together over the activities.
We started having requests for locally weaved baskets when I was out there in Wadeye. The visitors to the community just loved them and we put the baskets up on the Buy, Swap and Sell website. They sold so quickly, and it was an opportunity for me to give something back to the community by helping them.
The money helped to buy more raffia and materials for the aged care clinic, and this allowed the clients in the community to keep on weaving.
The basket weaving is their story in the communities; using fibres collected from their country, their mother’s country. The elders ask their ancestors before entering their country when picking the pandanus and sand palm, and the connection to their culture is why I love going remote and interacting with these wonderful people.
Recently on placement in Thursday Island, I was speaking with a non-indigenous resident, who has lived in the Torres Strait for over 40 years. He first came here as a construction worker and had relocated from Prince of Wales Island. He describes the island as having nothing but houses.
He came to TI for his care needs and asked me if I was happy in my life, to which I replied that yes, I am; thanks to Healthcare Australia.
It is through my work with HCA that I can help our people in the communities find their connection to their stories, and I feel this is where I am meant to be.
What Jodi’s Been Up to Recently
Jodi’s passion for remote aged care is still going strong, recently we received this message from her:
Just arrived in Darwin!! I just wanted to share with you what I made for old-timers. The DT asked me to weave a baby basket for a Dementia client an indigenous woman. Well, when I gave the basket to her it put a tear in my eye.
She grabbed the basket and put her doll straight into it and wouldn’t let the basket go. Seeing her reaction makes my work worthwhile. It was just beautiful to see.
HCA R&R PCA