Aboriginal culture celebrated this NAIDOC Week - NSW Nationals

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Aboriginal culture celebrated this NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) kicked off around the country last week to celebrate the culture and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders to Australia.

NAIDOC celebrations honour and showcase the ancient history and culture of Australia’s first peoples – the oldest continuous culture on earth. This year’s NAIDOC theme was ‘Our Languages, Our Way’ with events around NSW highlighting the varied languages spoken by Aboriginal nations and the importance of language to their culture, families and art. 

This year the Commonwealth Government provided $1.9 million in funding for NAIDOC community events, $1.4 million of which was distributed among communities for local events.

At state level, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Nationals MLC Sarah Mitchell said 116 grants had been won by regional NSW community groups totalling $200,000.

“The NSW Government recognises the rich and diverse history of Australia’s first people and these grants assist in showcasing our Aboriginal heritage and identity,” she said.

Regional community groups received grants under this year’s funding ranged from Brewarrina Council in Barwon, Gloucester Worimi First Peoples Aboriginal Corporation in Upper Hunter, the Deadly Sista Girlz Aboriginal Corporation in Fraser and to St Peter The Fisherman in Camden Haven and St Joseph’s Primary School in Port Macquarie.

The importance of language to the Aboriginal and Islander communities is supported by the Nationals and Liberal NSW Government, with workshops being held around the State to give communities a say on proposed Aboriginal Language legislation.

As Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said developing specific language legislation is an important step towards further reviving and protecting Aboriginal languages. 

“This year NSW will become the first state in the nation to introduce legislation to recognise and protect Aboriginal languages, as well as establishing a Centre for Aboriginal Languages of NSW to support community-led revival efforts,” Sarah said.

“Aboriginal people are the owners of and experts on their languages – we want to hear from them.”

Allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of their Aboriginal identities, local Aboriginal dialects are also taught at TAFE and carried out in cooperation with Career Pathways, Aboriginal Languages and Employability SkillsPoints and Native Language support services.

The significance of art to the Aboriginal community has also been captured as part of the NAIDOC celebrations. Reflecting the language theme, this year’s NAIDOC Week poster was designed by Wiradjuri woman Joanne Cassidy titled ‘Your Tribe, My Tribe, Our Nation’ which features hundreds of Aboriginal languages spoken around the country, set against a sunset motif. The poster aims to both highlight the hundreds of languages once spoken around Australia, while encouraging inclusiveness between them.

NAIDOC Person of the Year was awarded at the NAIDOC Ball in Cairns to Muralag Islander and Ynunga Aboriginal man, three-time Olympian Patty Mills, who uses his international profile in the American NBA as point guard for the Saint Antonio Spurs to inspire Aboriginal youth back home in Australia. The NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award went to Noongar woman Dianne Ryder, who after a distinguished 21-year career in the Australian Army now advocates for veterans’ health.

Aboriginal Male Elder of the Year went to Badimaya man Alex “Ollie” George, who has spent decades recording hundreds of hours of his language, Badimaya. He is the last fluent speaker of this dialect and his efforts are crucial to preserve the language for future generations. Female Elder went to Faye Carr, who advocates for better legal representation for Aboriginal Australians. Now retired from Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service, Aunty Faye now volunteers running outreach programs in prison. The full list of winners will be published on the NAIDOC website.

Funding for 2018 will open early next year, please visit http://www.naidoc.org.au/about for more information 

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