NAIDOC Week celebrates and bring awareness of the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. At Brighte, we see this as a week of listening, learning and reflection.
NAIDOC Week is held every year in the first week of July. The acronym stands for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising events nationally during NAIDOC Week and has now become the name of the week itself. For me, NAIDOC Week is always a time of reflection. It’s a week full of emotions both positive and negative. But most of all it’s a week where I can pay respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The theme for NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country, Heal Our Nation. The theme calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
NAIDOC Week at Brighte
We were incredibly fortunate to have our Chief People Officer, Kirstin Hunter, take it upon herself to educate the group and give us all daily tasks to celebrate NAIDOC Week. And no, it wasn’t like homework – each day we were given inspiration to continue the conversation around the oldest continuing civilisation in the world.
Instead of just keeping all these amazing resources within our own walls, I thought it would be a great opportunity to spread it far and wide and inspire a broader community. Here is a recap of Kirsten’s daily message and tasks shared with the business.
Monday: Day 1
To start the week off our first task was to research the Traditional custodians of the land we are living on or have lived on. As we are all currently working remotely starting off the week with this felt so right.
Kirstin shared the following sites to kick off this research:
- check the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia
- For Sydney metro, try the Australian Museum clan names chart
- The old-fashioned way: Google “traditional custodians of [place name]”
Although, I knew the name of the Traditional custodians of the land that I live on, I am sad to admit I never took the time to really dive into who they are. With a few clicks I discovered there was an entire book on the Dharawal speaking people and that it was available online at my local library.
Tuesday: Day 2
Tuesday was encouraging us to explore the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through documentaries. Furthering our understanding about the reality of what life is like for Aboriginal people in Australia today.
Kirstin’s top picks:
- In My Blood It Runs: This documentary tells the story of the challenges faced by Aboriginal kids in the mainstream education system, as told through the eyes of 10 year old Dujuan who lives in Central Australia. Fun fact, Dujuan went on to become the youngest person ever to have addressed the UN Human Rights Council. Watch on iview.
- Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister: The documentary takes a more statistical approach to storytelling, looking at the hurdles one typically jumps to become prime minister and considering the representation of Aboriginal people at each level. Watch on iview.
Wednesday: Day 3
Our third task was all about reading up on Aboriginal culture. Culture has a strong tie to how we identify ourselves. Understanding someone else’s culture allows us to better grasp their beliefs, values and sense of being. It was wonderful to see our wider team get involved by sharing books that have impacted them on this journey of understanding.
Kirstin’s top picks were:
- Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta. It takes traditional knowledge concepts and applies them to modern societal challenges. If you want something that’s going to make you think deeply and differently about the world around you, this is the book.
- Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. There’s some controversy around it but try picking up a copy and reading it for yourself.
- Loving Country by Bruce Pascoe and Vicky Shukuroglou. It’s a physical and spiritual tour guide for some amazing places in Australia. The pictures are stunning too.
Thursday: Day 4
As we round out NAIDOC week, we continued to build our knowledge through intentionally add in fiction books by Aboriginal authors into our reading lists.
In her post, Kirstin said, “Stories are such a powerful way of conveying understanding.” As a lover of stories, myself, I couldn’t agree more. Fiction writing often has a way of reflecting the state of a society in a raw and sometimes uncomfortable way.
One of my personal favourite stories is ‘Stolen’ by Jane Harrison, although technically a play, it’s still worth a read or a watch. It is based upon the lives of five indigenous children who dealt with the issues of forceful removal by the Australian government. It moved me beyond belief.
Kirstin’s top picks:
- Benevolence by Julie Janson: Possibly the first fictional account of colonisation written from the perspective of an Aboriginal woman.
- Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss. The first fiction book ever to be published under an Aboriginal language title (translation is River of Dreams).
- Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko – A modern story about rediscovering connection to country and culture.
- The Yield by Tara June Winch - this book has won pretty much every award in Australian fiction writing in the last 12 months.
Friday: Day 5
Our final task for the week was focused on creating awareness.
Kirsten explained that by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses you raise awareness in more than just a traditional sense. “As an added bonus, when you buy clothing in Aboriginal designs, even your daily work can be an act of awareness in support of justice for Aboriginal people. Even more so as you get more senior and have opportunities for a greater platform!”, Kirsten notes.
Kirstin’s picks to follow on social media or to buy from:
- Welcome to Country: They have loads of experiences that you can sign up to (e.g. national park tours led by Aboriginal people), but also homewares, clothing, art, books.
- Yarn Marketplace: Formerly Bundarra Brand, they have a range of men’s, women’s and kids clothing, casual through to work appropriate.
- Magpie Goose: More formal corporate type clothing. Fun fact, they have recently transitioned from being a white-owned social enterprise to Aboriginal ownership.
- Clothing the Gaps: More like campaign-wear (slogan shirts, etc). This brand are also behind a long-running campaign to remove the copyright on the design of the Aboriginal flag.
- Seed Mob: Australia's only Aboriginal-led youth climate justice organisation.
- Aboriginal Legal Service: Legal aid and legal support organisation focused on NSW and ACT.
That’s a full working week of NAIDOC inspiration at Brighte. While taking part I felt revitalised and inspired to continue my own curiosity on the deep culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. There is so much to learn about their culture and from it.
To see how you can get involved and support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community check out the National NAIDOC Week website.