04 July 2023
National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year (Sunday to Sunday), to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.
NAIDOC Week 2023 proudly celebrates the invaluable contributions and wisdom of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Elders with the theme ‘For Our Elders’. This theme recognises the profound importance of Elders in First Nations communities, who serve as the custodians of cultural knowledge, traditions, and spirituality. NAIDOC Week provides a platform to acknowledge and honour the resilience, wisdom, and guidance offered by our Elders, whose deep connection to the country, ancestors and community has shaped First Nations peoples past and continues to shape their future.
This week at Welcome to Country, we will be celebrating our operators and suppliers as they share what this year’s theme ‘For Our Elders’ means to them.
“In my own family, I am now the Elder as my own mother and grandmother are now longer around with us. Many of my Elders have taught me to nurture and protect the protocols and belief systems of our region and how important it is to maintain your connection to Country and to follow our ancient laws that respect family connections. I was taught to honour your Elders, look after the family members and to protect the rights of men, women and children and to keep our customary laws and lore, language and culture alive and well. I continue to utilise the ecological and spiritual knowledge of plants that has been handed down to me by my Elders when I facilitate cultural workshops with schools and the general community in my cultural immersion tours.” Aunty Pat Torres, Jarndu Ngaank Tours
“Elders are people in our community who have contributed a lot of our time, efforts and knowledge to the overall betterment of our Gumbaynggirr community. These contributions can be cultural, educational or through many years of advocacy that lead to us to have the opportunity we have afforded to us today. To me our Elders are special, because in my experience they have a very real passion and desire to pass on their knowledge and learning to the next generation, and they go out of their way to do so.” Clark Webb, Wajaana Yaam
“Walmajarri people run on a matriarchal system so I’m very fortunate to have lots of strong women to look up that pass on knowledge and cultural wealth. This includes Jajas (Grandmothers), Mothers (Aunties) and Sisters (Cousins). Walmajarri people run on a matriarchal system so I’m very fortunate to have lots of strong women to look up that pass on knowledge and cultural wealth. This includes Jajas (Grandmothers), Mothers (Aunties) and Sisters (Cousins).” Brodie George, Kiti Kiti
“I have so many deadly Elders in my life from those in my immediate family to those in the extended community. I cherish my Elders because not only have they fought every step of the way to overcome racism and discrimination and to ensure the rights and opportunities of the next generation. They’ve also been so generous in providing me guidance and advice throughout life. I have learnt so much from my Elders throughout my life. I’ve learnt the importance of thinking about and advocating for the rights and opportunities of future generations. I’ve learnt to not sweat the small stuff and they’ve also instilled in me the value of community and the knowledge that our strength and resilience comes from each other. “ Kaley Nicholson, Yilam
“I have a number of Elders in my local community that I regularly see. Since the passing of my grandmother, there are two Elders that I often look to for advice and assistance are, My father (Bennett Walker) and John Hartley a Kubirriwarra Kuku Yalanji Elder. Like most parents my father has had a major influence in my life and teaching about culture and my heritage. He is the head patriarch of the family and is constantly working on preserving and ensuring our cultural heritage survives and is maintained. John is a very special elder to me as he is very level headed and always there with an ear to listen about any troubles I have and is great at giving me advice about how to deal and approach them. John has a great grasp on preserving culture whilst adapting to the western ways.” Juan Walker, Walkabout Cultural
Welcome to Country encourages all Australians to participate in their local NAIDOC events which are so generously led by many community volunteers committed to sharing their cultures. Our commitment lies in fostering thriving First Nations communities, and this occasion serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing efforts across the nation and the enduring struggles that our esteemed Elders valiantly fought to bring us to this point in history.