The National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week emerged from the recognition by Indigenous Australians that they were neither respected nor listened to, and from their determination to effect change. Whilst NAIDOC week is officially celebrated over the school holidays, recognition of this important occasion was given at this week’s College assembly. Our special guests, Shaun Nannup and Josh Bertwistle, presented a moving Welcome to Country with a focus on song, art, dance, language and story.
The theme of NAIDOC Week this year is ‘Voice, Treaty, Truth. Let’s work together’. These words lie at the heart of the Uluru Statement that represents an Indigenous position reached after long discussion. It begins with the importance of voice. Indigenous culture, like all cultures, is built around language, in this case many languages. When languages die out cultures are put under great strain. The theme also aims at highlighting our various First Nations’ desires for lasting and effective agreements such as Treaties- which cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.
This week’s assembly raised awareness amongst our students and staff. The NAIDOC co-chair’s words are compelling:
“The history of our First Peoples is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it - hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides.”