In December 2019, after a long time in the making, Marcus and Darcy of HoMie’s founding team, alongside Craig Hollywood and the team from Short Back & Sidewalks (SBSW) including Shonagh Botley (Sho & Co.) and Maria Dillion (Grand Royal Barbers) were invited to the Northern Territory to host VIP Days for the community.
“I went in with no real expectations, but walked away being blown away by the culture of Australia's First Nation Peoples. I hope we will be able to return one day to continue to learn and build our relationship with Mutitjulu.” Darcy McCallum, HoMie’s Social Impact Program Leader.
The conversation started when the SBSW team were at Garma Festival Of Traditional Culture in North East Arnhem Land, when Craig met Dave Tome [Night Patrol Manager at Mutitjulu], which is a closed Aboriginal community located at the base of Uluru, within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, of which the Anangu people of Mutitjulu are the Traditional Owners and joint managers.
While at Garma, Dave witnessed first-hand the impact a fresh haircut and positive connection could make and asked if SBSW would be keen to head to Mutitjulu - because of the remote nature of the community, it was mentioned that something like a fresh haircut, or some brand new clothing, isn’t something that’s easily available for the people at Mutitjulu.
Craig of SBSW had been aware of the work HoMie had been doing for the community in Melbourne since 2015 - and reached out to HoMie’s Co-Founder Marcus Crook, who was immediately keen for HoMie to be involved to assist the community. The decision was made to collaborate as part of the trip, and something special that has grown to be the SBSW x HoMie School Holiday Program at Mutitjulu.
THE TRIP ITSELF:
Having been welcomed into the community by Mutitjulu Aboriginal Corporation Director Craig Woods, we kicked things off by heading to the aged care facility at Mutitjulu. It was there we met Senior Anangu Elder’s such as Reggie Uluru, Nelly Patterson, Nyanu Watson, Cassidy Uluru and Yuka Trigger, some of whom are Senior Traditional Owners of Uluru. By starting off at the facility it gave our team the opportunity to show respect to the Senior Elders who’d given our group the permission of staying at the Mutitjulu Community.
Here, everyone was ecstatic with their new HoMie clothing and fresh new haircuts. It was a special experience for all of us to positively connect with traditional owners of Uluru and it really set to the tone for the rest of the trip.
We then headed to the community centre - by then, the word had gotten around that some visitors had arrived, and it wasn’t long before the rest of the community came along to say Palya! (hello, good, OK) and to get a fresh new haircut and some new HoMie clothing.
Over two days in Mutitjulu, the HoMie and SBSW team set up a pop-up store and barber in the sweltering sun underneath the shadow of Uluru, and gave over 800 items of brand-new clothing to over 200 members of the community, a big thank you to Clothing The Gap, Qualitops and LMB Knitwear for providing extra items for the community to choose from!
“Setting up to host VIP Days in the community, just beneath Uluru and meeting Traditional Owners was a truly unique and special experience. We won’t forget the endless games of basketball and football in the downtime and being shown local areas with the most amazing energy, including sunrise Kata Tjuta, something I’ve never experienced before,” says Marcus.
Darcy, HoMie’s Social Impact Program leader, says the experience of learning the history of the Mutitjulu community, and other surrounding communities was so insightful. “Speaking to and learning from the Traditional Owners of Uluru, Reggie Uluru was a special moment I will cherish,” Darcy says.
“For most (if not all) of our team, this was a life changing experience. Not only to have been given the invitation to go to Mutitjulu, but to be able to positively connect, provide a helpful and friendly service, and, most importantly, to be accepted by the community,” Craig explains.
“Whether it was being given the opportunity to meet the beautiful children at Mutitjulu, who at any given time would be dragging you off to kick the footy, play basketball, go to the pool, to run hand in hand together into a willy-willy or to cheekily spray an obscene amount of hair colour spray into your hair (for the 20th time),
To meet the Senior Anangu Elders, to be treated to an open air sunset concert under Uluru by the Mutitjulu Band, to learn from the inspiring people who come from all corners of the world to work in the community, the memories and experience is something that will stay with us all forever,” says Craig.
LEARNINGS FROM THE TRIP TO MUTITJULU:
Having spent time at Mutitjulu and meeting some amazing people who are working together, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, I learned that reconciliation won’t arrive in a single moment or place in time.
It’s going to take lots of small, consistent steps, that no matter where you’re from or your background, if you have a positive attitude, it’s something you’ll go a long way to helping achieve. These steps are something my team and I were proud to take alongside Marcus, Darcy, Ben and the overall HoMie collective.
It was such an honour and privilege to be invited into the Mutitjulu community and to get a small insight into some of their traditions and culture. Being immersed for just a short period of time it was really clear to me that we still have so much to acknowledge, learn and celebrate from our First Nations people, the team at HoMie will continue to show up, learn and strive to be an ally
Both HoMie and SBSW are eager to continue to build on the relationship with the Mutitjulu Community, and to become a permanent fixture during school holidays.
HoMie is beyond grateful for having been invited into Mutitjulu, to have met Traditional Owners and the wider community, and be given the opportunity to provide the VIP Shopping Day experience for the community.
Here’s how to show your support to First Nations People, throughout NAIDOC Week, and each week after that:
Imagery shot by Ben and Marcus Crook.