by Shahmir Rind, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Project Officer, Health Promotion Team
NAIDOC Week was celebrated this year in Australia between the 3rd and 10th of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.
NAIDOC week has a long history and has seen many changes in its structure since formation. It began as a day of mourning which has since evolved into the week of festivities it is today.
Each year NAIDOC week has a theme, which encourages discussion and recognition for different aspects of Aboriginal culture, history, arts and people. This year’s theme was Songlines: The Living Narrative of our Nation. The theme aimed to increase understanding of the importance of the Dreamtime, which describes the formation of our lands, creatures and peoples. Dreaming tracks throughout Australia mark the journeys of our ancestral spirits, and these tracks are also called “songlines”. These songlines carry a significant spiritual and cultural connection to customs, knowledge, ceremony and Lore of Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait islander Language groups.
As the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Project Officer, myself and M Clinic Peer Educator, Anthony attended multiple events in Perth. At these events, the WA AIDS Council had a stall setup and displayed resources related to HIV & BBVs, sexual health, safe sex practices, consent as well as other information. There were also some promotional goodies available, such as themed wristbands, safe sex packs and lollipops for the kids. Our aim at these stalls was to increase community understanding regarding the myths and stigma surrounding HIV, encouraging safe practices and making sure the community is aware of the wonderful services that the WA AIDS Council provides.
Great feedback was received across all of the events, in particular our willingness to engage with the event attendees and our resources being very easy to understand, as well as the range of services we have to offer. We look forward again to next year’s NAIDOC Week and thank all the staff who supported the event. For more information on the history, formation and significance of NAIDOC week, check out http://www.naidoc.org.au/
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