5 July 2022

NAIDOC Week 2022: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

National NAIDOC Week events are held across Australia in the first week of July each year to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week provides an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations customs and participate in celebrations of the oldest living culture on earth. It’s time to acknowledge and honour the many who have driven and led change in our communities over generations, the heroes and champions of change.

Our history

Before the 1920s, First Nations rights groups boycotted Australia Day in protest against the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians. By the 1920s, they became increasingly aware that the broader Australian public were largely ignorant of the boycotts. If the movement was to make progress, it would need to be active.

Skip forward to 1938 past various instances of police harassment and rejection of Aboriginal electorates, over one thousand protesters marched through the streets of Sydney on 26 January, forever commemorating what would become known as ‘The Day of Mourning’. From 1940 to 1955 the Day of Mourning or ‘Aborigines Day’ was held annually on the Sunday before Australia Day. In 1955 the day was shifted to the first Sunday in July, remaining not only a commemoration of First Nations’ civil rights but also becoming a day of celebration for Aboriginal culture. In 1974 after the referendum, it was decided the event should span over a week and since this time the event has only continued to grow in volume, location and support.

With a growing awareness of the distinct cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was expanded in 1991 to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture. The committee transitioned into the National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC), becoming a title for the weeklong celebration. Each year, a theme is chosen to reflect the important issues and events for NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC Week 2022

This year’s theme: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!, calls on Australians to rally around mob, Elders and communities for systematic change. Now is the time. Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, constitutional change, truth-telling, treaties or calling out racism – we must do it together.

Northern Territory Gudanji and Wakaja artist, Ryhia Dank, won the 2022 National NAIDOC poster competition with her entry ‘Stronger’. Ryhia’s inspiration came from ‘what we [First Nations] have been through and what we are still fighting for’.

We need to move beyond acknowledgement, empty promises and hollow commitments. We need to build relationships and prioritise justice and equity.

Our new Federal Government has committed to a referendum to enshrine a Voice for First Nations peoples in our Constitution, to make the Uluru Statement a reality. It is a truly significant time in our nation’s history and it is time to put our First Nations peoples at the centre of decision making.

Reflection

NAIDOC Week is an important time to reflect on the challenges faced by First Nations peoples, to look at how far we have come and how far we still have to go. It carries with it a sense of belonging, of shared history, shared struggles and shared triumphs.

This week should serve as a reminder to never be ashamed of our culture and empower us to share what we know and who we are with others. First Nations culture is alive, resilient, empowered and thriving. The celebrations and events held throughout NAIDOC Week seek to unify and embolden us; every day action is integral to achieving equity, social justice, unity and self-determination.

It provides an opportunity to educate and witness the rise of the next generation. Sharing our stories and experiences will hopefully safeguard that the mistakes of our country’s past will not be repeated. The more knowledge Australians consume about the nation’s history, the higher chance we have of becoming a culturally inclusive society and truly reconciling with First Nations.

Supporting our communities

At Hall & Wilcox, our newly formed Cultural Inclusion Committee – led by Ahranee Vijayaseelan and Alison Choy Flannigan – has organised a First Nations session as part of our new Language Lesson initiative. The Committee focuses on ensuring our firm continues to be as culturally diverse, linguistically inclusive and empathetically informed as possible.

You can support and get to know your local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities through activities and events held across the country during July. You can also find First Nations businesses through Supply Nation’s database.

Beyond NAIDOC week, you can donate to Red Dust and Yalari or coordinate an Acknowledge This! Seminar to enrich lives, improve health and strengthen the future of all Australians.

You can also donate to the firm’s ongoing HalfCut fundraiser, an organisation that works to buy back privatised areas of the Daintree Rainforest and return them to their Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.

Let’s remember to celebrate the contributions of our First Nations beyond NAIDOC Week. Diversity and Inclusion is an everyday aspiration we should all support.

This article was written by Ella Bilton-Gough, Law Graduate.

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