NAIDOC Week: For Our Elders

Student Leaders with Karla Hart and Sister Sally Bradley

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth. We can support and get to know our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through activities and events held across the country and within our College.

The Student Leadership Council hosted a NAIDOC Week assembly for the College on Thursday. This year, the Council has committed itself to the promotion of a Culture and Diversity campaign, and we are excited to be able to include the celebration of NAIDOC week as part of this advocacy and awareness initiative.

NAIDOC stands for the National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee. National NAIDOC Week celebrations 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. The 2023 National NAIDOC Week theme is ‘For Our Elders’. 

Winning poster in the NAIDOC Poster Competition

The National NAIDOC Poster competition has become an iconic feature of National NAIDOC Week and has a rich and significant history beginning in 1967 when the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) first began producing posters. Each year the National NAIDOC Week Poster Competition encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged 13 years and over to submit their artwork which reflects that year’s National NAIDOC Week Theme. Bobbi Lockyer, a proud Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru artist, born and based on Kariyarra Country in Port Hedland, is the winner of the prestigious National NAIDOC Week Poster Competition for 2023 with her entry, For Our Elders.

Karla Hart

To celebrate Indigenous culture through both music and dance, awarded Perth NAIDOC Artist of the Year for 2017, Karla Hart, a proud Noongar woman, raised on Goreng country in WA’s Great Southern, showcased her deep cultural knowledge, and her connection to country and culture at our Assembly. In 2004 she founded the Kwarbah Djookian Dance Group and has performed extensively both in Australia and abroad. The all-female dance group accompanied, by Karla’s singing and storytelling, immersed staff and students into the Indigenous stories and connections to land and culture.

Sister Sally Bradley

We then welcomed Sister Sally Bradley, Executive Director of MercyWorks. Mercy Works is our major fundraising partner as a school who supports the efforts to keep the vision and charism of Catherine McAuley alive. This year’s Mercy Day fundraising efforts will again support numerous local and international projects of MercyWorks. Sally shared with us some of MercyWork’s current projects which support our Indigenous peoples and communities in Australia, linking them with significant themes from Catholic Social Teaching.

Paige Lobwein presenting on her recent immersion to Punmu

The assembly also gave the College an opportunity to hear about our year 12 immersion experience in Punmu. Year 12 students Kaylee, Elle and Paige shared their transformative stories and encounters of working within an indigenous culture in a remote community. We hope that in the sharing of their experiences, they have been able to inspire our next group of students who hope to travel to Punmu again in the near future.

Across these beautiful lands we now call Australia, there are over 200 known language groups and approximately 500 Nations and Clans. That means our First Peoples are very diverse! To better understand our local communities, we encourage the Santa Maria Community to get to know their local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community leaders, past and present. There are so many ways we can learn about and honour their stories.

Melissa Trolio | Director of Mission

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