Every July, an important week is marked in Australia to recognise and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Known as NAIDOC Week, and running from July 2 to 9, it is a chance for everyone to gain a deeper understanding of First Nations peoples and build a more united and accepting community.
NAIDOC stands for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee.
Its origins can be traced to the emergence in the 1920s of Aboriginal groups, which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The Sunshine Coast is home to the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi and Jinibara people.
For more than 20,000 years, the traditional custodians hunted in the surrounding ranges, fished the rivers and gathered seafood from the ocean.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is: “For Our Elders”.
The theme focuses on how, across every generation, Elders have played and continue to play an important role and hold a prominent place in communities and families.
Aunty (Dr) Lynette Riley is acting co-chair of the National NAIDOC Committee. Aunty Lyn is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman from Dubbo and Moree, and a senior lecturer in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.
Aunty Lyn says this year’s theme is the driving force behind everything that NAIDOC stands for.
“For me, I’m being driven by what our Elders have asked us to do in the past, what they are asking us to do now and where they want us to be in the future,” she says.
“They always have been, and always will, be my driving force.
“If you’re looking at the kinship structures and systems that we operate on, whether they’re consciously being used every day, or because of previous policies and practices that government have instigated … it’s still there – it still drives everything that we do.
“We can’t not think about where we’re heading if our Elders aren’t behind that. Our elders are our diving force, culturally and socially and economically.”
Steven Satour is the co-chair of the National NAIDOC Committee. The proud Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Pertame man from Central Australia says this year’s theme is really important.
He reflects on the story of his grandmother, who was taken away from her community as a three-year-old, understanding the lessons she learnt of tenacity and fighting against the stereotypes often placed upon First Nations people.
“Over the past couple of years, we have seen really prominent people in our community pass away,” he says. “This theme is a reminder that we really need to be taking the time to sit down with them, to learn and to absorb all of their wisdom and all of their lived experience.
“In our own families, we need to make sure that we’re keeping their stories alive and that they are influencing generations to come.
“Every time I go into a situation that feels like it’s going to be a struggle, I think about my grandmother and I think about my Elders and I think to myself, I come as one but I stand as 10,000.”
Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor David Law says NAIDOC celebrations will be held across the region, nurturing a shared future that embraces culture, heritage and diversity.
“The local First Nations community, along with council, have a range of activities happening during the week, including First Nations exhibitions at Caloundra Regional Gallery and Maroochydore Library, as well as weaving, children’s storytelling and a bonfire at TribalLink in Mapleton,” Cr Law says.
Locally, TribalLink provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educational activities, resources and education from its activity centre at Mapleton, mobile classrooms and online portals.
More information about TribalLink can be found at triballink.com.au.
- Lake Kawana will come alive on July 1 with the Celebrate NAIDOC event, hosted by Refocus. Running from 10am to 3pm, the free family event will include performances, market stalls and food trucks. Visit facebook.com/refocuscorp.
- A NAIDOC flag-raising ceremony will be held at 9am on Wednesday, July 5, at the Nambour Library forecourt on the corner of Currie and Bury streets. To register for the free event, visit eventbrite.com.au and search for ‘Sunshine
Coast Council NAIDOC Flag Raising 2023’.
- On July 8, there will be a screening of the Australian film The Sapphires. The outdoor cinema event is on at Sunshine Coast Stadium. For tickets, go to library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.