July 4 might be synonymous with America’s famed holiday, but here in Australia it marks the beginning of NAIDOC Week whereby Indigenous communities and Australians from all walks of life come together to celebrate the First Nations people’s culture, history and achievements. From the arts to music, fashion and sport, NAIDOC Week isn’t just an opportunity to learn more about the history of First Nations people, but also allows individuals to support those within the community and have their voices amplified.
NAIDOC refers to the committee responsible for the week and its events, and stands for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Each year, the week sees an annual National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony take place, with a different focus city. 2021 will mark the theme, “Heal country, heal our nation,” a nod to the culture and heritage of our country and an urgent demand to protect it fiercely. As NAIDOC explains, “Country is inherent to our identity. It sustains our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally. It is more than a place.”
While many of us understand and recognise the importance of our lands, waters, sacred sits and languages from an emotional, physical, social and cultural perspective, the destruction these aspects of country have experienced are a source of great sadness and despair for many communities across Australia and it’s time all Australians came to be invested in their protection.
This week, First Nations people want to call for recognition of Country and the effect we’ve had on its survival, and that of its impending future. With the week having now commenced, now is the time to call for “stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage for all Australians,” as NAIDOC explains, while also seeking “greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.”
Already, the commencement of NAIDOC week has seen Channel 10 use traditional names of Australian cities instead of colonial names for its Sunday night weather forecast. Similarly, Australia Post has released a new line of envelopes which have a space specifically for traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place names.
The change comes after years of campaigning after the initiative was sparked by Gomeroi woman, Rachael McPhail, who has been championing the use of First Nations place names for years, particularly when sending letters and parcels. As Australia Post’s National Indigenous Manager, Noongar man Chris Heelan said in a statement: “Including the traditional place name as part of the mailing address is a simple but meaningful way to promote and celebrate our Indigenous communities, which is something Australia Post has a long and proud history of doing.”
For those looking to support NAIDOC Week, NITV will provide week-long content around the event, including the return of its popular and Australia’s first Indigenous breakfast television program, Big Mob Brekky, with hosts Shahni Wellington, Ryan Liddle and Tyrone Pynor. Created by First Nations people, the morning program brings the “best First Nations yarns, plenty of black secrets for anyone wanting to learn more about First Nations culture and all complemented, of course, by some proper lovely feeds for everyone tuning in.”
Well done to Transdev Sydney, the operator of the Sydney Light Rail who've wrapped 3 trams and internal decals in the #NAIDOC poster artwork of Maggie Jean Douglas to mark #NAIDOC2021— NAIDOC (@naidocweek) July 2, 2021
Keep an eye out for it Sydney! #NAIDOCWeek #HealCountry pic.twitter.com/GEli9s8yMS
Social media will also provide banners and posters for those looking to share the words on Instagram. For those looking to post, the official NAIDOC Week hashtags are #NAIDOC2021 and #healcountry.
Admittedly, one of the best ways to support this NAIDOC Week is to get behind Indigenous-owned businesses. NAIDOC’s official account will be sharing local Indigenous-owned businesses to support and bring together those who reside on different lands within the country.
For more resources, educational tools and information on Indigenous-owned businesses, visit the official NAIDOC website here.