Celebrating Culture with NAIDOC Week

09 NOV 2020

It’s NAIDOC Week, a time for celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, achievements and history. Usually, NAIDOC Week begins on the first Sunday in July, but it was postponed this year due to COVID-19. Palmerston Community Worker Wayne Ryder shares what NAIDOC week means to him, his family, and his mob.

What is NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Observance Committee.  This year, the theme is ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’, in recognition that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years. It acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australian’s first explorers, artists, farmers, scientists, and botanists. This year, we are also celebrating that the first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations people. www.naidoc.org.au


For Wayne, NAIDOC Week is about celebrating all of the good things about his culture. “It’s a celebration of who we are,” he says. “There’s so much to our culture that people aren’t necessarily aware of – food, art, sport, people, language, the history.” NAIDOC Week is a chance to celebrate these things. “NAIDOC week is for everyone” Wayne says. “It’s about bringing everyone together, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal folk, to educate them about the beauty and diversity of Aboriginal culture.”

Dreamtime, or storytelling, is a vital part of Aboriginal culture. It is the core of who Aboriginal people are, and why they’re here today. Australia has the oldest oral stories in the world and it’s important for Wayne that his children learn these stories from the elders.

“Learning where we come from is a very important part of our culture and NAIDOC Week is a great time to pass these on to our kids by giving them the opportunity to talk with elders,” he says.

Health and Wellbeing

In Aboriginal culture, wellbeing is not just about the absence of disease or illness. Wellbeing consists of a balance of five elements: cultural, spiritual, social, emotional and physical. It’s a multidimensional concept that incorporates the whole community. Within a healthy community, individuals can thrive.  Wayne works within the Aboriginal community promoting wellness and supporting those affected by alcohol and other drugs. He adds:

“Being able to provide for my family and to be there for them is very important to me and my mental health.”

For Wayne, he is spiritually and emotionally connected with the bush.

“When I’m in the bush with my mob, we are connected as one, it’s something that is within us, that grounds us,” he says.

Self-care is also important. Being able to switch off from work to spend time with family, not overloading himself too much and playing darts with his mates are ways that Wayne makes sure he has the physical and emotional energy to give to his family and community.

This week in WA, there are numerous events that you can take part in, including exhibitions, sports games, virtual webinars and yarning circles. To make the most of NAIDOC Week and to become involved, please visit: https://www.naidoc.org.au/get-involved/naidoc-week-events

We care about you and your mob. If you are in crisis and in need someone to talk to, please give Lifeline a call on 13 11 14.

Written by Rochelle Alison-Moore