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2021 NAIDOC Week - Message from the Head of Aboriginal Affairs

5-July-2021

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands that we are connected to and pay my heartfelt respect to our Elders past and present. I extend my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our many countries. I acknowledge all our nations/countries that form the oldest continual living culture and the unique role of our people, place and culture of this land.

The 2021 theme for NAIDOC Week is Heal Country! and calls 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.

As a proud Aboriginal woman from Brewarrina, NSW – Ngiyampaa (Ngemba) country in Northern NSW, this year’s theme resonates with me in thinking about my country and particularly Baiame’s Ngunnhu, the Brewarrina Fish Traps. An incredibly special place from a number of perspectives. My connection is strong to this place and to my ancestors. Some of my best memories are from an event we had every year called the ‘Festival of the Fisheries’ centred around Baiame’s Ngunnhu. So much connection and celebration of culture. The Baiame's Ngunnhu Festival is now the annual event.

While these days I can’t get back to my country as often as I’d like to, when I do head home, there is a powerful connection to Country which carries a deep sense of healing for me.

I am thankful to the custodians of the fish traps who have taken such good care of them over the years, and continue to watch over and protect such a culturally significant place now and into the future.

In the coming week, I’d like to encourage you all to take some time out to truly experience what this years’ theme means, and think about custodianship – those who’ve cared for this Country over the past 65,000+ years – that allows us to celebrate today.

Everyone has something on their Country that they’re connected to, and there are many ways for all of us to connect to Country.

Noting the need to comply with COVIDSafe practices/restrictions and also noting a number of events have been rearranged or rescheduled, I encourage you all to make time to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021.

Whether it’s attending an event of your choice (in person or online), something we’ve supported or something completely independent, I encourage you all to make time to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021 – in celebration of the history, culture and traditions of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Lil
Head of Aboriginal Affairs



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