The theme for NAIDOC Week this year is “Because of Her, We Can”. It is about honouring the vital and instrumental role women play in our communities.
This has led me to reflect on how important women have been in my life, on my journey to date. I have been very fortunate to grow up with a very strong and formidable Aboriginal woman. My Mother has been a wealth of cultural knowledge and history. She played a very big role in forming my identity as an Aboriginal man.
My mother taught me about my family, our history and told me stories of where we came from. She taught me the value of always doing the right thing, for the whole community, not just certain groups or interests. This is not always easy to do when it comes to community politics. My Mother taught me the importance of gaining an education and the need for self-determination. I have watched and I have learned from her experiences.
She has given so much to our people, our community and her family. Never seeking any accolades for doing so. I’m grateful that she allowed me to forge my own path and find my own way in our community.
It is so easy to be distracted with the day to day. To take for granted the contribution women make to our families and our communities.
This year’s theme is asking us all to pause for a moment, reflect on the women around us and what they do for us because of who they are. Acknowledge them, tell them, celebrate them. Otherwise, how else will they know just how much they inspire others by their actions.
We have a horrible habit of not telling people how much they mean to us or how important they are to us until the end, if at all. We need to change and break this cycle.
NAIDOC week is a time to celebrate. For Aboriginal people it is a time to reconnect with community, participate in cultural activities, remember the struggle of those before us and the fight that needs to continue.
NAIDOC week for non-Aboriginal people is a perfect time to learn about Australia’s black history and gain a new perspective of our shared history. It’s not about guilt, it is about mutual respect. It’s about appreciating our journey, at times, a very troubled one admittedly, yet coming together to create a future that is better than our past.
This is the challenge for us all, as a people. I challenge non-Aboriginal people to learn about our flag, what it represents to us, the symbolism. It is not a divisive symbol, it is a unifying one. It represents more to us in many respects than our national flag.
I challenge you to compare the meanings behind both flags and you’ll soon see why. Educate yourself, gain a different perspective of our nations journey. Begin to understand and appreciate our connection to this land we all belong to, our country and what this represents to our people, to all of us.
Most importantly spend some time interacting and engaging with our community, have a yarn. Share experiences, we are all richer for it. I believe we all share similar hopes and dreams, despite how we may have grown up and where we come from.