Meander Valley Gazette

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Raising the flag on NAIDOC Week

FeatureJoanne Eisemann
Cold and rainy weather for Deloraine did not put off attendees from celebrating at this year’s NAIDOC Week ceremony. Deloraine Elder Hank Horton holds baby Layken West while helping to raise the flag .  Photo by Mike Moores

Cold and rainy weather for Deloraine did not put off attendees from celebrating at this year’s NAIDOC Week ceremony. Deloraine Elder Hank Horton holds baby Layken West while helping to raise the flag .

Photo by Mike Moores

Celebration of NAIDOC Week

By Hayley Manning

NAIDOC WEEK celebrations at Deloraine still drew impressive numbers despite the challenging conditions on the day.

The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee theme for 2019 was based on reforms in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, that acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy.

Voice. Treaty. Truth. ‘Let’s work together for a shared future.’

This delivered a powerful message and created impact in the national media during the 7–14 July NAIDOC Week.

However, the overarching message to emerge from the intense week of discussions was the importance of community. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt spoke of ‘community pathways’ that allowed each community to have a voice.

Organising the Deloraine event for the first time, Melinda Scott said NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to engage in, and therefore protect, ancient cultural rituals by teaching the next generation while educating the wider community about the achievements and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Melinda planned traditional activities throughout the day, starting with a Welcome to Country, spoken in palawa kani, with poise by Laura Tatnell, which was apt as this is the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The indigenous voice of Australia is over 65 000 years old, but Melinda says many stopped using their language when they were relocated.

‘They were ‘rewired’ – they became indecisive. If you lose your voice, you lose everything you have ever stood for. Without the Elders and their knowledge and their voice, we wouldn’t be where we are today, or as knowledgeable as we are.’

Several guest speakers also focused on strong community ties. Founder of the Kooparoona Niara Cultural Trail (Great Western Tiers Mountain of Spirits), Greg Murray, initiated the NAIDOC Week for Deloraine five years ago. ‘The local community has been very positive and supportive right from the start, with respect for our Elders, respect for our culture. It is about everyone being culturally connected.’

Meander Valley Mayor Wayne Johnston’s address also captured the community spirit. ‘In times past we may have been marching, but today it is a walk and the steps we take, we take together.’

Melinda would like to thank Jill Harvey for cooking and catering, the Deloraine Trade Centre trainees, Meander Valley Council and everyone who attended on the day