NAIDOC Week: A Celebration and an Opportunity

July 4, 2021

Matthew Simons

If someone were to ask: “What significant week in the Australian calendar begins the first Sunday in July?”, would you be able to give the correct answer?

It is, of course, NAIDOC Week – a week of events celebrated right around Australia recognising the rich and diverse culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and of their long history and connection to Country.

NAIDOC Week’s origins stem from the 1938 Day of Mourning, originally held the week before Australia Day and marked by marches and civil rights demonstrations to protest the treatment of Indigenous Australians.

Historically, there was no recognition of Aboriginal citizenship nor of property rights, no recognition of ownership of Country, and neck chains were still in use for forced clearances off traditional lands.

It became a week-long event in 1975 – the acronym drawn from the "National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee" – and has grown in visibility and importance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and to the broader Australian community.

Each year, the event is set in a different focus city, which is where the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony takes place. The city, the NAIDOC poster competition and the NAIDOC Awards recipients are all selected by the National NAIDOC committee.

A new theme is adopted each new NAIDOC week, providing a deeply meaningful cultural context for the celebrations. This year’s theme is “Heal Country!”, which “calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction”.

It is for all Australians, whatever their heritage and cultural backgrounds, to build their awareness around Aboriginal history and culture. After all, it was here first and has thrived for more than 65,000 years – the longest continuous living culture on earth.

For us here at ADA Australia, we are pleased to recognise and support NAIDOC Week, to commit to growing our awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture and heritage, and to acknowledge ownership of Country.

Our entire team has signed on to complete an Indigenous Proficiency Program through A2B Personnel, with whom we have a close friendship and relationship.

A2B Personnel is a 100% Aboriginal owned employment consultancy, who specialise in pre-employment training and post-placement mentoring and support for Indigenous Australians.

The organisation was founded by Yorta Yorta brothers Andrew and Benny Walker; they also work alongside sister Melanie Micalizzi and their cousin Dr. Troy Walker. In addition, Yorta Yorta brother and sister Tyler and Lara Cubby also play an enormous part in the A2B Personnel team in their Echuca office. One of the key aims of A2B Personnel is to encourage equality of opportunity, strength and resilience in the physical, psychosocial and economic capacities with Indigenous People and promote reconciliation with non-Indigenous Australians.

We think it is for everyone in the Australian community to increase understanding around the history and culture of the traditional owners of this Country.

For non-Aboriginal Australians, NAIDOC Week provides a window into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, heritage and achievements, and an opportunity for each of us to grow our understanding and awareness of this 65,000-year-old living culture, and to reflect truthfully on our history.

ADA Australia is very proud to support NAIDOC Week.

If you’d like to learn more, visit the NAIDOC Week website at: https://www.naidoc.org.au/.

Additionally, you can reach the A2B Personnel website by clicking here to gain an understanding of the employment, mentoring and support programs they provide for Indigenous Australians.

If this information raised any concerns for you, please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: LIFELINE 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636.

Article by
Matthew Simons