Opinion

Week focuses on three reforms

By Shepparton News

NAIDOC Week: July7 to 14 a week of celebration.

2019: The International Year of Indigenous Languages.

A unique opportunity to hear this nations indigenous voices.

With the theme of ‘‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future’’, this year’s NAIDOC Week focuses on the three elements of the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

NAIDOC co-chairman John Paul Janke said: ‘‘It is time for our knowledge to be heard through our voice — an Indigenous voice of this country that is over 65000 years old.

‘‘They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia.

‘‘They are precious to our nation and need to be celebrated, but it’s our voice that needs to be listened to.’’

It is a voice that has a long history of protest.

Prior to the 1920s, Aboriginal rights groups boycotted Australia Day (January 26) in protest against the status and treatment of indigenous Australians.

But by the 1920s, these groups were increasingly aware that the broader Australian public were largely ignorant of the boycotts.

They needed to become more active.

Several groups were formed to continue this campaign, in particular the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA) and the Australian Aborigines League (AAL).

In 1936, William Cooper, founder of the AAL, drafted a petition to send to King George V, asking for Aboriginal representation in Federal Parliament, citizenship and land rights.

The petition was forwarded to Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, but cabinet decided no good purpose would be served by submitting the petition to the king.

On Australia Day 1938, protesters marched through the streets of Sydney, followed by a congress attended by more than 1000 people.

This was known as the Day of Mourning and was one of the first civil rights gatherings in the world.

This Day of Mourning became an annual event and, from 1940 to 1955, was known as Aborigines Day, on the Sunday before Australia Day.

In 1955, it was decided the day should not simply become a protest day, but rather a celebration of Aboriginal resilience and culture — NADOC (National Aborigines Day Observance Committee) was the result.

In 1984, NADOC asked that National Aborigines Day be made a national public holiday to help celebrate and recognise the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique.

This did not happen.

NADOC was extended to include Torres Strait Islander peoples in the early 1990s and NAIDOC became the name for a whole week of celebration.

Each year, a theme was chosen to reflect important issues and events.

This year’s theme acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision making in Australia.

It also highlights the various First Nations desire for lasting and effective agreements, such as treaties, which cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand now as a nation.

National NAIDOC co-chairwoman Patricia Thompson reflects on this long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ struggle for recognition of their unique place in Australian history and society today.

‘‘This history of our First Peoples is the history of us all, of all of Australia, and we need to own it hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides,’’ Ms Thompson said.

‘‘The 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart built on generations of consultation and discussions among indigenous people — we need to be the architects of our lives and futures.

‘‘For generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have looked for significant and lasting change.

‘‘We need our fellow Australians to join us on this journey — to finish the unfinished business of this country.

‘‘So let’s work together for a shared future.’’

What’s on

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Kaiela Arts is having a number of activities exploring the Cummeragunja Walk-off: Family workshops drawn together on July 9 and 11; artist talks 12.30pm, July 10; and Robyne Nelson speaking about the Cummeragunja Walk-off, July 11 at 6pm.

Phone 58219842 for more information or visit https://kaielaarts.org.au/whats-on/coming/

University of Melbourne - School of Rural Health: July 9 at 12pm This year the speaker is Kimberley Moulton, senior curator at Bunjilaka Melbourne Museum. Phone 58234554.

Dharnya Family Day: July 10, 11am to 3pm. Phone 58320222 for more information.

Bangerang Cultural Centre Open Day: July 10, 10am to 2pm. Email miranda

[email protected]

GV Health NAIDOC Celebrations: Thursday, July 11, 10.30am, Elsie Jones Education Centre courtyard.