This week is NAIDOC Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee). It is an important fixture on our national calendar, which provides Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike, the opportunity to celebrate the 65,000 years and counting, of history, culture and achievements of First Nations people.
First Nations People have made tremendous contributions to Australia in a variety of fields: from academia to the sporting field; from the arts to the environment; from the workplace to the community; from elders to emerging leaders.
The NAIDOC Awards honours these achievements and contributions, which are a source of pride for all Australians.
It is important to remember that NAIDOC’s history is rooted in the first Aboriginal rights protests, which began over 100 years ago – notably the Day of Mourning which occurred on 26 January 1938, after which William Cooper proposed a national policy for Indigenous Australians.
To that end, we should also use this week to reflect on the journey ahead towards Reconciliation – acknowledging that the challenges confronting First Nations Australians are a challenge for all Australians.
This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’ – three core principles outlined in the Uluru Statement: a roadmap to Reconciliation.
This historic document notes that integral to progressing on our journey toward Reconciliation:
- Voice: Self-determination and a greater say in the decisions and issues which affect First Nations People;
- Treaty: Acknowledgement that sovereignty was never ceded and a vision for an Australia large enough for an equal place for First Nations People; and
- Truth: Recognising Australia’s history of injustice and intergenerational trauma – that our painful past is inextricably linked to the challenges of the present.
In this time of celebration and reflection, we are reminded that none of these challenges are insurmountable, so long as we acknowledge our collective responsibility and embrace collective action.