Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuous living culture.
Indigenous Australians have lived on the Australian continent for at least 65,000 years. Each year, on the first Saturday of July, Australia celebrates NAIDOC Week — a time dedicated to honoring and celebrating the rich culture, long history, language, and vast accomplishments of Indigenous Australians.
The theme for this year is 'Voice. Treaty. Truth', representing the need for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to work together for a united future and for Indigenous Australians to have a heightened position in the nation's policy-making.
In honor of NAIDOC Week, here are five ways Australians can celebrate the vast culture of the world’s oldest civilization.
1. Understand How and Why NAIDOC Week Originated
This year is the 80th anniversary of the 1938 Day of Mourning. A significant moment in history which involved many brave, courageous Aboriginal men & women, fighting for our rights, fighting for our future & fighting for a voice. Their legacy matters & we shouldn't forget that. pic.twitter.com/AGghexDurU— Joe (@cuz888) January 8, 2018
NAIDOC Week, which stands for the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, stems back to activism by Aboriginal rights groups in the early 20th century. On Australia Day in January of 1938, the activism turned to active protest, as Indigenous Australians marched through Sydney to fight against celebrations of Australia’s colonization by the British.
The success of the initial protest led to the day being regarded each year as National Aborigines Day. Then, in 1956, the date moved to the first Sunday of July, which allowed the day to focus on acknowledging Aboriginal culture while still representing the history of injustice.
In 1975, the one day acknowledgment turned into a week of celebration.
John Janke, NAIDOC co-chair, says every Australian should use the week to deepen their grasp of Indigenous Australia.
"A week enables diverse activities to help celebrate and recognize the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique," he told the ABC. "NAIDOC is a week born from a day of protest, a movement towards justice, equality, freedom, and human rights. It's a week that celebrates and acknowledges our past, our present and looks with hope toward the future."
2. Support Indigenous Rights Groups
#NAIDOC2019 is right around the corner, and this year's theme 'Voice. Treaty. Truth' speaks to the need for Indigenous Australians to have en enhanced role in the nation's decision-making. But how did @naidocweek start? Find out in this video from @SBSNewshttps://t.co/0ME6ULoqwCpic.twitter.com/v8fXG4JluL— Reconciliation Aus (@RecAustralia) July 7, 2019
Countless organizations are working to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. You can support organizations working for the betterment of Indigenous Australians by donating, volunteering, or simply using your voice to share their content and messaging.
Here are a few examples of incredible Indigenous organizations:
— The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) serves 143 Aboriginal health and well-being programs throughout Australia. The organization works to expand health services in remote areas, campaigns with governments on Aboriginal health policy, and works to spread information about the significant health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
— The Healing Foundation works to support Indigenous Australians who were removed from their families by government agencies as part of the stolen generation. The organization partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma felt by survivors and their families.
— Reconciliation Australia is the peak body for reconciliation in Australia. The organization works to support relationships and respect between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to create a more just and equitable society.
3. Learn About the Land You Live On
Do you know what Aboriginal land you live on? If the answer is no, it’s time to get educated. With the majority of Australians living in the nation’s eight capital cities, we’ve broken down the traditional owners of the land for Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, and Hobart.
The traditional owners of Melbourne are people from the Kulin Nation, with surrounding groups including the Woiworung and Boonwurrung. For Sydney, it’s the people of the Eora Nation, and for Perth, it’s the Noongar People of the Whadjuk Nation.
The city of Adelaide is located on the traditional Country of the Kaurna People while the city of Brisbane traditionally belongs to the Yuggera People. Canberrans live on Ngunnawal land, while Darwinians live in Larrakia Country. Lastly, those from Hobart live in muwinina country, whose palawa people use no capital letters in their traditional palawa kani language.
4. Tuck Into Indigenous Cuisine
NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the theme #VoiceTreatyTruth. We will be running free workshops throughout the week spanning art, music, dance, weaving and weapons https://t.co/ra9rJ6ppfc#RBGSydneypic.twitter.com/LBWKC32eCb— Royal Botanic Garden (@RBGSydney) July 5, 2019
NAIDOC Week features countless events, screenings, and immersive exhibitions.
For Sydneysiders, one of the week’s best activities is occurring this Saturday, July 13. Sydney’s famous Centennial Parklands are running a guided bush walk and picnic tour, which will take participants through the process Indigenous Australians used to hunt and gather food.
Participants can then attend a bush tucker feast, including the likes of kangaroo, emu, wattle, and saltbush.
You can find out more about the bush walk and picnic tour here.
5. Learn About the NAIDOC Awards
@SBS & @NITV will simulcast the National @naidocweek Awards , as well as offer a special programming slate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories throughout the week. #NAIDOC2019#VoiceTreatyTruthhttps://t.co/SOVTrRzW83— NITV (@NITV) June 18, 2019
Each year, the national NAIDOC Awards are presented to Indigenous Australians who work to enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, promote Indigenous issues, and create formidable impact in their chosen fields.
Dean Duncan, a Kamilaroi man, took home the 2019 NAIDOC Person of the Year Award during the award ceremony in Canberra this week. Duncan has spent nearly two decades as a teacher and senior lecturer working toward the goal of increasing the percentage of Indigenous Ausrtalians with qualifications.
As an associate director of Indigenous education at the Weemala Indigenous Higher Education Unit, Duncan helped introduce the first Bachelor of Midwifery Indigenous course — a major target in efforts to reduce the disparity of maternal health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The full list and description of award winners – including Youth of the Year and Artist of the Year — can be found here.