News & Events

Razia probes pre-Rushall Park history

December 11, 2016

Razia Ross has spent a lot of her life travelling the world, learning about different cultures and finding common ground. Not surprisingly she has developed an interest in Australia’s Indigenous culture since moving here in 1987.  With help from Indigenous groups, Razia is now researching the very early history of the area around Rushall Park.


Razia hopes the information uncovered can be incorporated into OCAV’s rich and interesting 150-year history that will be showcased during celebrations in 2019.


Razia’s interest in including the Indigenous history in the celebrations was first triggered a few years ago when she witnessed a Kulin Tanderrum ceremony in Federation Square as part of the Melbourne Festival.


Kulin Tanderrum ceremony is the meeting of the five clans of the Kulin nation: Wurundjeri, Boon Wurrung, Taungurung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung.

The experience was powerful for Razia and she felt there were common threads between the Tanderrum and Sufi and Buddhist ceremonies she had witnessed through her life. “The experience went straight to my heart,” Razia said. “It was a ceremony and dance full of life and energy and beauty and it invited us in. It was just amazing.”


Razia believes that most people, particularly residents of Rushall Park, would be interested to know the full history of the area. Her long career in managing cultural events in England has strengthened her faith in people’s desire to learn more about other cultures.  One of the events she curated in England was the London World of Islam Festival that involved an art exhibition and music.


Already, she is investigating the various ways of acknowledging traditional owners, Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies and what they mean to those present.


Razia came to Rushall Park almost six years ago after a lifetime of travelling and working. She was born in Scotland, lived in Bath until she was six, then Birmingham and then to Canada until she was 22. She left Canada and returned to England where she studied theatre.


After that she spread her wings and took off to countries all around the world. In 1987 she decided to return to Canada, but enjoyed a trip around the world on her way home. She spent time in India, Nepal and Myanmar and then came to Australia after being asked to teach the Alexander technique in Sydney. The Alexander technique is a way of making a connection between the brain and body; learning to move mindfully through life and a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body.


It wasn’t long before Razia had fallen in love with Australia, “the most beautiful country ever” and abandoned plans to return to Canada. She travelled to the desert and to Uluru and she became curious about the Indigenous people.


Once settled in Australia, Razia trained as a psychotherapist and though she has retired from her practice she still sees some of her long-term clients.


“I think a lot of my life has been about the inner and outer exploration and I have always been really fascinated by other cultures and what they give to us,” she said.


“I would love us to recognise, in some meaningful way, as part of the 150th, the people who first lived on this land, or in this area. It could be very special and important to paint a picture of what life was like here before Rushall Park existed. In a way its like a joining of the stories.”


Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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