Copyright Agency members share what NAIDOC means to them and their communities
June 29, 2023
NAIDOC week through the years has transformed into a celebration and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ achievements, culture and history.
Working with over 5,000 members who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reach out to them and listen to their voice about what NAIDOC Week means to them.
NAIDOC Week is about all of us coming together to celebrate, even though we are from different language groups.
Known for her gorgeous bird paintings, Nyangulya Katie Nalgood is a Walmajarri artist who paints with Spinifex Hill Studio every day. Katie says, “I am a Kimberley woman living in the Pilbara. NAIDOC Week is about all of us coming together to celebrate, even though we are from different language groups. This week is about our families, our friends, our community”.
I love this year’s theme FOR OUR ELDERS – because every day I carry the wisdom, knowledge, unconditional love and incredible humour they give me.
Bidhi Galing author Dr Anita Heiss shares a similar insight about the sense of community, stating, “To me, NAIDOC Week is about celebrating all that is good in our communities. Collectively, we spend much of our time focusing on realities and statistic attached to our mob in health, education, incarceration, social justice and so forth, that we often don’t have the time to stop and focus on all the excellence and joy that is also part of our lives. I love this year’s theme FOR OUR ELDERS – because every day I carry the wisdom, knowledge, unconditional love and incredible humour they give me.”
These things enabled us to bring extended family together, reunite us with one another and the old language artefacts and Country which is their text.
Family is also a common theme for our members. Author and Professor of Writing Kim Scott shares his sentiment about NAIDOC. He says, “NAIDOC is always a good time for reflection and to take stock of where we’ve got to in the burgeoning story of decolonisation. This year, ‘For Our Elders’, I think of Kayang Hazel Brown and her generation. She who last century wrote out a wordlist with her ailing father, and gave us those pages to build upon, and recorded herself reading them out loud for the record. And her brother – Lomas Roberts – who gave us songs he was unable to pass on to his own children. And their cousins – Russell and Helen Nelly – who wanted us, their family, to ‘open up’ stories from their own father – and, again, how it was impossible for them to receive these precious language artefacts from their father, such were the conditions of history when they were young. And how these things enabled us to bring extended family together, reunite us with one another and the old language artefacts and Country which is their text.”
LISTEN – LEARN – RESPECT
While NAIDOC week is a time for celebration, it is also a time for voices to be heard. Artist Michael Connolly (Munda-gutta Kulliwari) states that NAIDOC week “is a reflection of the struggles of our Past Ones and time to take stock of the sacrifices they have made for us and using that reflection to give us the strength and courage to make a better path for our future.”
“It is time for our Voice not only to be heard but responded to – LISTEN – LEARN – RESPECT,” he adds.
*Photo: Nyangulya Katie Nalgood at Spinifex Hill Studio, courtesy AB Videography 2023.