‘Heal Country!’ core to NAIDOC Week 2021 theme

08 Jul 2021

By The Record

Aboriginal Sunday Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Embleton Parish, at 11am on 12 July. Those who wish to attend must RSVP to: acm@perthcatholic.org.au. Photo: Eric Martin.

National Aboriginal Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week celebrations are held across Australia each year to celebrate and acknowledge the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC evolved from the committees of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s that increased the awareness and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton has last week released a letter to Archdiocesan agency directors about NAIDOC Week, 4 to 11 July 2021, themed “Heal Country!”.

“In my capacity as Chair of the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee for the Archdiocese of Perth, I write to recommend the resources that are accessible from SBS and NITV listed below,” he stated.

“With COVID-19 restrictions that are currently in place, there may be a delay in NAIDOC local events.

“However, we are encouraged to view a few of the following series and/or films that are freely available on the SBS/NITV website.”

Some suggestions are:

• Another Country;

• My Survival As An Aboriginal;

• Wik Vs Queensland;

• Songlines on screen – Marrimarrigun, Wardbukkara, Wurray;

• Owning your History; and,

• Mparntwe: Sacred Sites.

Bishop Sproxton asked viewers to reflect on the following:

• how do these make you feel and what knowledge have you gained from hearing these stories?

• how have these stories affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and how does it shape our nation?

• what are ways that we can come together as a nation to continue to care and maintain Country?

Aboriginal elder Therese Walley and her daughter Rose add more leaves to the fire as part of the smoking ceremony for the end of NAIDOC Week Mass in 2017. Photo: Ron Tan.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has called on its staff, students, and stakeholders to use NAIDOC Week to reflect on how it – as individuals and as a community – can show tremendous respect for the country and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACU was one of the first Australian universities to formally support the reconciliation movement with its Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation, launched in 1998, aiming to be a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff.

To further formalise its commitment, it implemented a Reconciliation Action Plan 2019 – 2021, a strategic document that outlines practical actions it can take to provide meaningful opportunities and to encourage greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in tertiary education, empowering them to reach their full academic and economic potential.

In partnership with the First Peoples Directorate, ACU aims to build capability, remove barriers to university participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and are integral to its commitment to reconciliation to foster excellence in learning and teaching, student success, and community engagement.

ACU is honoured to have many exceptional alumni who come from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background. From Theresa Ardler (an ACU alumni using art to heal old wounds) to Derek Chong (Queensland’s first Aboriginal psychiatrist) to Julie Appo (who launched a fashion design business in her seventies).

Aboriginal Sunday Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Embleton Parish, on 11 July at 11am.

An Archdiocesan Aboriginal Sunday Mass will also be held at St Mary’s Cathedral at 11am Sunday 1 August with Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton.

For more information, contact the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry via email at acm@perthcatholic.org.au