Your shout: Rediscovering Indigenous culture with Derek Oram Sandy

Derek Oram Sandy is passionate about bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into the 21st century.

Derek was born in his mother’s country of the Yerongpan (Sandy Country) clan and carries the English version of his clan’s name – Sandy.

Through his mother he is also descended from the Miguntyun clans of Brisbane and the Mununjali clan of Beaudesert. He also carries the bloodlines of Burrigabba, Wakka Wakka, Butchulla and Durumbul on his father’s side.

At 12 years old, Derek began playing the didgeridoo as an expression of his deeply felt connection to country. As he grew up, he came to love sharing his culture and helping other Indigenous Australian’s find their own.

He was disappointed that the general population rarely had opportunities to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. In response to this, Derek founded the Yerongpan Aboriginal Dancers as an educational platform to inform Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

“Having the opportunity to institute it into our school education, early learning educations, our corporate educations and cultural awareness stuff – sharing and to be able to get that true reconciliation – we’re only coming into that time now.”

Derek believes that it is especially important to bring Indigenous youths back to their roots and teach them their culture, so it not only survives but creates a sense of identity and connection within the young people.

This, he said, is the part of the solution to ending high suicide mortality rates in Indigenous communities – especially among men. 

“Sitting down with those cultural people, they might not be having a great time themselves within their life, but to see them get up and grab those clapsticks and start to play and sing the spirit of the old people in and around their brothers and sisters, sharing their culture – that to me is where I found healing in coming back together,” he said.

Derek and the Yerongpan people’s dream was to create an Aboriginal Cultural Centre where Australians of Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage can learn about the oldest surviving culture in the world.  

“Our major goal is to have an Aboriginal Cultural Centre, an educational centre where people can come and learn about the ancient culture,” he said. 

“It’s much needed in the broader community and a lot of people love it when we share the stories and our history of our suburbs.”

“It really connects it and intertwines them so they can be part of that evolving culture but also being a part of that history that we acknowledge together.”

Listen to more from Derek below.

Derek acknowledges that both the past and present are important moving forward and tries to meld the ancient culture with today. This led to a remix of Baby Shark into his traditional Yuggera language.

Your shout is available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple iTunes and RACQ Living