Written by Michelle Craig
Playgroup WA’s Aboriginal Playgroup Coordinator
NAIDOC Week is celebrated every year in July and is an opportunity for us to pause, reflect and celebrate the many achievements of Aboriginal people including the Aboriginal families, children and staff members that participate in playgroups across the state.
NAIDOC is relevant to all Australians and as a Darug Nations woman, living and working on Noongar Whadjuk country, I would like to share some thoughts with you as we celebrate together.
All Australian children that live on this land deserve to learn about our ancient country and the rich and diverse cultures of First Nations peoples that continue to this day.
Let’s all stand up together and turn our spirit into action by showing up and supporting each other!
We honour and respect the cultural custodians and traditional owners of the Lands of the Noongar Boodjar Nation and pay homage to the ancestors who walked these lands and whose spirits reside here. We also acknowledge Elders past and present whose wisdom and strength enabled us all to be here in the present, as beneficiaries of their legacy.
The artwork for the theme this year is by Ryhia Dank, a young Gudanji/Wakaja artist from the Northern Territory.
Ryhia said “I feel that this piece being black and white allows us to focus on the details and messages in the artwork”.
“My skin colour does not define me rather, my history, family and our experiences inform my identity.”
NAIDOC is the time to recognise and celebrate great movements and peoples from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that have helped change our views of the world. Individuals and groups all help make change no matter how small or great the gesture, so join in and experience the diversity, richness of culture.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people have a profound physical and spiritual connection to country. It relates to our beliefs and customs regarding creation, life and death, and spirits of the earth. Spiritual connection to country guides the way we understand, navigate and use the land. It also influences our cultural practices.
Like mainland Aboriginal history, Torres Strait Islander history grows both ways, into the future and into the past.
Leadership is defined as a willingness to take responsibility for creating a positive future for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people – whether that is in the workplace, in communities or within families. Leaders are needed throughout the community to help us move towards self-determination and better lives for everyone.
These two indigenous groups have managed to preserve their rich culture through time and even now their culture and beliefs have been preserved and still celebrated.
Learning about Aboriginal role models is important – it inspires, educates and helps to further create an awareness within the community.
Some great leaders and role models from Australia are:
David Unaipon, Cathy Freeman, Neville Bonner, Archie Roach, Bronwyn Bancroft, Adam Goodes, Albert (Elea) Namatjira, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Benn Harradine, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Lowitja O’Donoghue, Anita Heiss, Samantha Harris, Mandawuy Yunupingu, Linda Burney, Noel Pearson, Leah Purcell, Jessica Mauboy, Christine Anu, Deborah Mailman, Linda Burney, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Eddie Mabo, Tanya Orman, Lowitja O`Donoghue, Vincent Lingiari and many more.
To read more about these role models click here here.
We can all benefit from understanding and valuing the rich and diverse cultures of First Nations people, as an important part of our national identity and should encourage this understanding within our playgroup communities.