Why Global Citizens Should Celebrate NAIDOC Week
Celebrating NAIDOC week is to celebrate the resilience of Aboriginal women.
The National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebrations Week occurs throughout Australia each July to commemorate and recognise the culture, lifestyle, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Each year, NAIDOC Week chooses a particular theme to celebrate. This year’s theme falls under the title of "Because of Her, We Can," and focuses on celebrating the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played — and continue to play — within all levels of Australian society.
In celebration of NAIDOC week, Global Citizen has chosen a mere few exceptional and influential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to highlight.
Professor Megan Davis is an international lawyer and member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She is the first Indigenous Australian woman to work for the United Nations.
Among her United Nations commitments, Davis also works on preventing violence against Indigenous women through her role at the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales.
Prof Megan Davis #BecauseOfHerWeCan see towards a shared Indigenous/non-Indigenous understanding of the true history of Indigenous-settler relations in this country and what we need to move forward #UluruStatement#auscon#auslaw#NAIDOC2018@mdavisqlderhttps://t.co/TCpuBndRi7— Feminist Legal Group (@feminist_law) July 11, 2018
Olympian-turned-politician Nova Peris is the 1997 Young Australian of the Year and one of only a few people to have ever made back-to-back Olympic finals in separate sports. She was the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal when she played hockey as part of the Australian women’s hockey team in the 1996 Olympic Games. A switch to athletics saw Peris compete in the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 2000 Olympic Games.
Peris became the first Indigenous woman to be elected into Australia's national parliament in 2013. She has spent her time in parliament working primarily on addressing Indigenous issues in the Northern Territory.
Over the past few years, Peris established the Nova Peris Girls Academy in Darwin to nourish and support young women in the final years of their education.
My great Grandmother Nellie Sarah, my nana Nora & my mother Joan Peris. It’s because of these amazingly resilient women that ‘I CAN’ - I stood on their shoulders. My Rock, My Inspirations ✊🏽🖤💛❤️ Strong Kimberley Women! #BecauseOfHerWeCan#NAIDOC18#Kimberley#Proud#Kija 👣 pic.twitter.com/Ev2FREefzF— Nova Peris OAM OLY (@NovaPeris) July 9, 2018
Bronwyn Bancroft is a Bundjalung fashion designer and artist. She is known to have been one of the first Australian women to have had fashion designs showcased in Paris. Bancroft has assisted hundreds of Indigenous artists to pursue careers in the arts through her Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative initiative.
Free tours, exhibitions, films and more during #NAIDOCWeek 8-15 July at Australian Parliament House.— Australian Parliament House (@Aust_Parliament) July 7, 2018
Bronwyn Bancroft (born 1958) Djunbun/Bunjalung peoples, Timeless, 2016, Parliament House Art Collection, Department of Parliamentary Services, Canberra, ACT pic.twitter.com/f4jGlezyJm
Celeste is an Arrernte social commentator, public speaker, and current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Indigenous Organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union. Liddle writes from an Indigenous feminist perspective on issues like the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people as well as the deep-rooted racism that exists within Australia’s media industry. Liddle writes primarily for her blog Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist as well as the Guardian Australia and Daily Life.
Shareena Clanton (Wangkathaa, Yamatji, Noongar, and Gitja) is a prominent Australian film, television, and theatre actress. She is best known for her role as Doreen Anderson on the hugely popular drama series Wentworth. Despite her work as an actress, Clanton has largely been in public discourse in recent months due to her appearance on the ABC panel show QandA, where she spoke passionately about Indigenous representation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Australia’s non-Indigenous population have long had a tumultuous relationship. Racism and race violence remain a significant problem in Australia.
Research from the University of Tasmania and Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation revealed that the majority of Indigenous people feel unfairly profiled, judged, and disregarded by white Australians. The research data revealed more than 90% of interviewees believed non-Indigenous people used untrue stereotypes to judge them, with a similar number stating non-Indigenous people spoke down to them.
To tackle Indigenous disadvantage and move forward on reconciliation, Shareena Clanton states that NAIDOC Week needs to be a vessel for a wider discussion about how to leverage the Aboriginal voice in all aspects of Australian society.
“When do Indigenous people get social, cultural, and economic empowerment and voice in parliament?” she asked during her QandA appearance.
“We’re asking to deconstruct the system that exists. We’re asking to be invited to the table. I don’t know how you bridge the gap in terms of Aboriginal people who are still struggling to have a voice," she said.
NAIDOC Week runs from Sunday, July 8, through to Sunday, July 15. Global Citizens should use this week to consider how best they can support and uplift Indigenous and other marginalised communities in their own lives.