Banatjarl Strongbala Wimun Grup have launched a garden of traditional Jawoyn bush foods and medicines to offer "true healing" to young Indigenous people struggling with their mental health.
The group name is Kriol for "strong women group" and the project was led by female Jawoyn Elders in the Katherine region.
The garden was constructed over six months in partnership with Save the Children and Food Ladder with funds from an NT Health suicide prevention grant.
All of the garden's plants grow on Jawoyn country and include Jirr (Native Lemongrass), Pilangpilang (Melastoma) and Woyoj (White Bush Apple).
BSWG coordinator Pip Gordon said the garden design was based on the vision of the Jawoyn Elders, and was built at the Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation office.
"This garden was inspired to connect the BSWG Elders with youth in town and have a place where the ladies can share and grow this garden," she said.
Ms Gordon described the garden as a "space of healing" and said the bush foods and medicines were transplanted by young people, working with the Elders and learning traditional knowledge about Jawoyn country.
She said the young people involved struggle with mental health problems, and BSWG hope to foster relationships with them and support connection to the Elders via ongoing work at the garden.
Elders and leaders from various Jawoyn communities travelled to Katherine for the opening.
Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation chairwoman Lisa Mumbin officially opened the garden, and said it was part of previous Elders "vision" to offer a place for "true healing" via bush food and medicine.
"(It's) a place for women to spend time with children and other ladies, to face the social issues that affect our people," she said.
Ms Gordon said the idea for a garden in Katherine came about during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, when BSWG were unable to spend time on country at the Banatjarl Bush Medicine and Bush Tucker Garden in King Valley.
"This meant that families were unable to have cultural camps or take young people out on country to continue teaching important plant knowledge."
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