NAIDOC Week is a wonderful time for all Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I am pleased to see the celebrations now taking place not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life, right across our beautiful country.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future. Voice. Treaty. Truth were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.
With 2019 being the International Year of Indigenous Languages, it gives us further cause to celebrate the unique and essential role Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the retelling of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.
Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups covered the Australian continent at the first European contact in the late eighteenth century. And if you consider several dialects for each language that means the total number would have run into the many hundreds.
In OzChild’s journey to cultural competence through our Reconciliation Action Plan as well as our Bridging Cultures Unit, Dhiiyaan Mirri, we are committed to working alongside our Aboriginal colleagues to learn all we can to support self-determination and ensure we develop our practices in line with these learnings to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous communities and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being placed in Out-of-Home Care.
As an organisation we are committed to understanding and sharing the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities as we focus on ensuring those children who come into our care receive care that is both safe and culturally responsive.
Throughout NAIDOC week there are many events you can attend. Your participation not only demonstrates your support for reconciliation but support for those organisations and communities working hard to improve our understanding of the history of our Nation.
At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.
I encourage everyone to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
As an organisation it is important to learn from our mistakes as we are in a position to influence and make positive change for our Nation’s First Peoples.
I thoroughly enjoy celebrating NAIDOC Week each year, if you haven’t taken part in the celebrations before I urge you to do so. Immerse yourself in the culture, history and traditions, I personally gain so much from participating in these very special events and I hope you do too.