Every year NAIDOC Week gives all Australians the opportunity to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Our Languages Matter. The focus is on the importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
This week will give everyone the opportunity 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 take into account several dialects for each language that means the total number for have run to many hundreds.
I am sad to say today only about 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.
In OzChild’s journey to cultural competence through our Reconciliation Action Plan, we will work with our Aboriginal colleagues, alongside them and seek to learn all we can to support self-determination and ensure that we develop our practices in line with this learning to support and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
We are committed to actively supporting and taking steps towards achieving real reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In understanding the importance of Indigenous languages to their culture we will help to create stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
During this week there are many events you can attend. Your attendance will demonstrate your support for reconciliation and for those organisations and communities.