Welcome to NAIDOC Week
This week provides an opportunity for us to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on the destruction of culture, systemic poverty, inequity, racism, and cultural erasure that colonisation has inflicted on First Nations people.
The theme this year is ‘Heal Country!’ – ‘a call for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.’
The Society NSW’s vision for reconciliation is for a just and equitable society. This vision must be for ALL Australians. Whether you identify as a First Australian, a non-Aboriginal Australian, whether you were born here, or you have come to call Australia home, we are all in this together, and NAIDOC Week serves as a reminder of the road we must travel to heal culture, country, and ourselves.
Gan Na cultural awareness program
This week we launch the Gan na cultural awareness program. Gan na is Bundjalung for ‘deep thinking, hearing, feeling, and understanding’. This three-part learning series covers different world views – aiming to build awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures, it focuses on the journey to recognition, respect, and reconciliation, and explores how we can walk together in achieving a more just and equitable society for all.
First Australians live with the devastating realities of colonisation every day. Colonisation not only caused dispossession and systemic poverty, but it meant the exclusion of First Australians from the constitution and caused the forced separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their land, culture, and in too many cases, their children.
As a Faith-based organisation, it is important for us to be conscious of the historical role played by missions and other institutions in the dispossession and loss of identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. While this may cause discomfort, we must be sensitive to the ongoing impacts of historical actions and consider how they still affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
It may surprise you to learn that there are over 250 separate nations or language groups across Australia. Each Aboriginal community is unique, and each person must be treated as an individual. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enjoy a rich cultural history and have a deep knowledge of, connection to, and respect for country. They have a great deal to teach us if we will take the time to listen.
While the Gan na program is voluntary, it is open to everyone, and I strongly encourage each of you to take the time to complete this important program.
You can access the Ga na program here (please sign in and click on Content Library on the top menu. Then type Gan na into the search box).
Innovate RAP 2021-2023
I am pleased to announce that the Society has just completed our first Innovate RAP Strategy, which ran from 2018-2020. Some of the key achievements from this plan include the design and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recruitment and Retention Strategy and the Gan na Cultural Awareness Program. We also realigned our RAP Working Group to reflect the recent structural changes across the Society and reinvigorated our Community Advisory and Regional RAP working groups. We have also established a First Nations Employees Network who have provided guidance and support on the initiatives in our new plan.
Reconciliation Australia have reviewed our new RAP and have asked us to make some minor changes and clarifications which we have now done. Once Reconciliation Australia complete this final version, we will be on track to launch. Due to the current increased COVID challenges and the rapidly evolving situation, the launch will be delayed for a few weeks.
You can find information relating to our Reconciliation Action Plan, our Cultural Protocol, significant dates, and more here.
An ongoing journey, not a destination
Reconciliation is a process – a constant flow of respect, empathy, action and understanding between cultures. The only way we can start to heal country is through sharing stories, listening to each other, building awareness, and really challenging ourselves to become agents of social justice, people of action, and instruments of compassion.
Learn more about NAIDOC Week.