23 January 2024
For many Australians, the upcoming 26th of January holds a special meaning. It’s a day when
different perspectives on national celebrations may arise, leading to diverse ways of observing or
even choosing not to celebrate at all. The impact of the Referendum last year was significant,
affecting people from all walks of life, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs. It sparked a
collective journey that aimed for self-determination, shared autonomy, and educating our nation
about its history.
Conversations with family, friends, First Nations people, non-Indigenous allies, work colleagues, and
associates reveal a range of emotions following the Referendum and leading up to the 26th of
January. Surprisingly, we noticed a remarkable increase in shop sales during the Welcome to Country
event, showing a collective display of support.
Welcome to Country is a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to fostering greater economic
independence for First Nations entrepreneurs. Its goal is to help preserve their cultural practices and
share their heritage with the world on their own terms. We aim for more prosperous First Nation
communities by offering additional pathways for these entrepreneurs to connect and share their
practices in a culturally safe environment and on a suitable platform.
It seems that many customers, including allies, who supported self-determination and autonomy for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Referendum, also took practical steps to
show their support. We extend our sincere gratitude to these supporters.
Every year, as the 26th of January approaches, I focus on the theme of NAIDOC for that particular
year. The theme for 2024, “Keep the fire burning! Blak, loud and proud,” deeply resonates with the
work we have been doing at Welcome to Country. We hope that our allies, supporters, communities,
and corporate citizens will join hands to keep our fire burning brightly.
While the nation reflects on its journey and grapples with the complexities of its history, Welcome to
Country stands as a beacon, fostering understanding, unity, and prosperity. Together, let’s make this
26th of January a day that not only acknowledges the challenges of the past but also paves the way
for a shared, inclusive, and culturally rich future.