NAIDOC week is an opportunity for us all to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievement and to recognise the enormous contribution that Indigenous Australians make to our community and our country.
I was joined by the Chief Minister to host a special flag raising ceremony to mark the start of NAIDOC Week 2015. This Flag Raising Ceremony is an acknowledgement by the ACT Government of the importance of NAIDOC Week, which this year runs from 5 – 12 July 2015.
In a week with many diverse NAIDOC events, the ACT Government's flag raising ceremony provides specific recognition by the ACT of the history and heritage of the land on which our community is built. And also of the many Indigenous cultures which continue across the region to this day.
Here’s a shot of the Chief Minister, Salasie McCarthy and Krista Clarke (representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community), and me at the ceremony. Each of us raised one of the four flags in Civic Square for the NAIDOC Week event.
We value and embrace these cultures in modern Canberra – not just this week, but every week.
In six months as minister I have become more aware of this wealth of culture and heritage than ever before. It’s alive and well in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. And it’s alive in this land.
Canberra has more than 3,500 known Aboriginal heritage sites and they help tell the history of people living in the region for at least 25,000 years.
We’re lucky to have such important sites right on our back door and one of the most special is the rock art site at Yankee Hat in Namadgi National Park, which I visited back in March.
The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week celebration is, ‘We all stand on sacred ground: Learn, respect and celebrate’. This theme captures the importance of connections to land and sea for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The theme is a call to all Australians, young and old, to respect and celebrate sites of significance and sacred places. It encourages us all to pay tribute those who’ve fought for generations to protect and restore these connections.
Canberra is also lucky to be a focus for many other NAIDOC events this week.
On Saturday night the NAIDOC committee held its annual ball and awards night and on Sunday we enjoyed a terrific family day at Reconciliation Place.
This coming Saturday the ACT Government is putting on the first Yarramundi Market Day at the cultural centre at Yarramundi Reach – so please tell your friends and families.
One of the features of this event will be a community launch for the recently signed partnership agreement between the government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body.
The contents of this document came largely from the community and as we move to implementing it, we want their close involvement once again.
Employment is a perfect example – where government and community can come together and achieve results which are so much harder to achieve alone. So with that in mind, the ACT public service has redoubled its efforts to grow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff numbers.
The Murrunga Murrunga staff network is central to providing the mentoring and support for this program to succeed – giving great life to the meaning of their name, ‘hand-in-hand’. And I want to acknowledge the network.
Of course the need to take this community partnership further – for the diverse needs of families right across Canberra – is both the challenge and the opportunity which we have embraced in the new agreement.
As we begin the implementation, we need to do so with this same spirit of partnership.
I wish you all a fantastic NAIDOC week.
I’m sure the theme of standing on sacred ground will resonate throughout our community – among Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people alike.
For further information on NAIDOC week, and events in your area visit www.naidoc.org.au