This week at our “All Hands” meeting, we stopped to celebrate NAIDOC Week, recognising our First Nations People and the ceremonies that go along with acknowledging them.
NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week, 4 – 11 July 2021, has its roots in the 1938 Day of Mourning and became a week-long event in 1975. Over time, it has evolved into a nationally observed event encouraging all Australians to stop and respect Australia’s first people and heal the country.
This year the NAIDOC call to action is “Heal Country”. Healing Country means embracing First Nation’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage. The aim is for the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders to be respected equally as all Australians’ cultures and values.
Image courtesy of naidoc.org.au.
A Welcome to Country is a short ritual or formal ceremony performed at the beginning of an event to highlight the cultural significance of the surrounding area, acknowledging the Aboriginal clan or language group of the traditional owners of the land. It is always conducted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander elder. An Acknowledgement of Country serves the same purpose as a Welcome to Country; however, it can be conducted by anyone.
Despite having a very diverse and multicultural team with team members from 16 different countries, we don’t have any indigenous team members and certainly no elders, so we delivered the Acknowledgement of Country below.
“We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging of all communities who also work and live on this land.”
We encouraged our team to add their name to the Uluru Statement of the Heart Canvas and determine what land they live and work. Our Australian team spreads far and wide – as far south as Tasmania and as far north as Brisbane (not counting our overseas team members) – with our head office in Sydney on Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation. Everyone in our team will find out what land they are on by visiting the Aiatis Map of Indigenous Australia, and we will refer to our prospective lands in future meetings. By doing so, we show our respect for the cultural history of the land on which we work.
We plan to continue our education about the Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander people and culture, their rich history and how we can best support them going forward. We plan to continue supporting our First Nations People, hoping that more people, companies, and political leaders will join us in celebrating Australia’s rich history and healing country.
If you would like to learn more about NAIDOC Week, please visit the official website and attend or plan an event for your workplace. We all need to acknowledge, respect and support the World’s Oldest Continuous Living Culture.