NAIDOC Week, happening from July 4 to 11, is about Indigenous and non-Indigenous people getting together and supporting First Nations communities.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Heal Country! For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Country is so much more than the ground we walk on. Country is more like a person; it’s family, knowledge, language and tradition. It always was, and always will be.
So what does it mean to Heal Country? The NAIDOC Heal Country theme aims to encourage the protection of land, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction. Healing Country is also seen as a way forward, to seek meaningful reform and resolve the outstanding injustices that have been impacting the lives of First Nations peoples for far too long. And it’s about celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Here’s how you can help Heal Country this NAIDOC Week (and every week, for that matter):
1. Support an Indigenous-owned organisation
There’s a range of incredible Indigenous-owned organisations in Australia. Here’s a few of our favourites.
Seed is Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, whose vision is to create a fair and sustainable future powered by renewable energy. Indigenous communities are the first and worst hit by the effects of climate change, so it makes sense that these communities are leading the charge on change. Seed are empowering young people to stand up and take action. In the past few years, they’ve campaigned the Big Four banks to defund the Adani coalmine, fought against fracking in the NT and helped Indigenous community members enrol to vote.
Common Ground is a not-for-profit amplifying First Nations knowledge, cultures and stories, particularly within the education system. Founded in 2018, Common Ground was established to address the lack of representation of Indigenous voices in Australian society. They recognise that the more people who connect with First Nations knowledge and culture, the more people will respect and understand it.
IndigenousX is an Indigenous-owned and operated media, consultancy and training organisation, working with emerging and established Indigenous writers across a range of publications, to share knowledge and storytelling with respect. Donations to IndigenousX will ensure that they are able to remain independent and continue to create and publish original content.
And if you have the means, consider donating to the Aboriginal Legal Service in your state. These organisations rely on funding to provide legal support, community engagement activities, research and policy work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
2. Get your workplace involved
There are heaps of things you can do to celebrate NAIDOC Week in your workplace. Invite a local Elder to come and speak to your team or learn how to do an Acknowledgement of Country and make it a regular part of your workplace’s meetings and updates, or before big events. The Barengi Gadjin Land Council, who we work with on our Conservation Reserve, offer a host of cultural services for events such as Traditional Welcome to Country (in language), cultural information and smoking ceremonies. You could also download a poster or two to display around the office and hang both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
3. Educate yourself
One of the best ways to learn about Indigenous culture, history and traditions is to read about it. Read up on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and sign it to show your support.
Your local library and bookshop is also full of great resources from First Nations writers, but here are a few to get you started.
Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now by Ellen van Neerven
Growing up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
Living on Stolen Land by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Two Cultures, One Story by Dr Robert Isaacs and Tanaz Byramji
The Yield by Tara June Winch
4. Wear your support
There’s never been a better time to update your wardrobe with some new threads. Melbourne-based Clothing the Gaps have been encouraging people to wear their values on their tee for years, and use their platform to educate and elevate Aboriginal voices and causes. Haus of Dizzy creates bold jewellery and accessories that celebrates Indigenous culture and Gammin Threads designs and sells a range of statement tees, hoodies and accessories (and a handy guide to what you can and can’t wear if you’re not Indigenous).
Find out more about NAIDOC Week and how you can do your bit to support it here.