Indigenous Awareness: NAIDOC Week Speakers
This July all of us here at ICMI are excited to come together with Australians across the country to celebrate NAIDOC Week and pay our respects to one of the oldest ongoing civilisations on earth. This week comes after National Sorry Day (26th May), National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) and National Reconciliation Day (30 May).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have fought long and hard to have their rich history acknowledged. NAIDOC week began as a protest movement against Australia Day on 26 January. Since then, the day has become a week and encompasses both a day of mourning and a celebration of Aboriginal culture and history.
We now celebrate the culture, achievements and history of Indigenous Australians over a whole week known as NAIDOC Week. Run by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, it is a chance for all of us to honour and learn about Indigenous culture. In 2022, NAIDOC Week runs from the 3rd-10th of July.
The 2022 Theme for NAIDOC Week is ‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’. This year is all about working in any way possible to create institutional change towards further reconciliation while also celebrating all the brilliant work of those who have already been doing so to help lead change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over generations.
‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’ is a call to action to all Australians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, to move towards a relationship built on justice and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s rights to the country we live on.
Events will be held around Australia during NAIDOC week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC is celebrated by people from all walks of life, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support and amplify the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. There are NAIDOC week activities to suit all ages, abilities, budgets and interests and participating in an event is an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of this land’s original custodians.
How to acknowledge NAIDOC Week
There are many ways to celebrate NAIDOC Week and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of our beautiful country. In line with this year’s theme, learning as much as we can about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is central to this. NAIDOC Week events are encouraged and could be organised by a workplace, school, or community. It’s important to note that permission is not required to fly either the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flag, but is required if you are intending to reproduce either flag for any reason.
Simple things you can do include displaying the National NAIDOC poster or learning local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place names and words. Here in Melbourne for example, many people aren’t aware the area is known as Naarm in the local language, which incidentally will be the new name of the Melbourne Football Club. Making time to learn about and engage with Indigenous Australian art and history is also a great way to celebrate. One of the most important ways to acknowledge NAIDOC Week however, is by inviting Indigenous Elders and representatives to speak at your event. This could involve anything from a Welcome to Country ceremony or inspiring educational talk, to a comedy or musical performance.
There is so much the Indigenous community has to share with us this NAIDOC Week. Taking the time to centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices will allow us to learn not only about their rich cultural practices, beliefs and traditions, but also about our own relationships with the world around us.
This year’s theme particularly encourages us to consider the importance of Country. Learning about Indigenous agriculture, for example, can teach us about Indigenous history as well as our own relationship to the land and ongoing sustainability practices. A smoking ceremony performed by Indigenous guest speakers, visiting a significant Indigenous site, or a talk on Dreamtime storytelling are a few other deeply interesting and informative experiences that could be organised in cooperation with the local Indigenous community.
NAIDOC Week Keynote Speakers
ICMI collaborates with many inspiring Indigenous Australian speakers and performers with a wealth of knowledge, stories and talents to share. Reconciliation is built on respect, and one way of showing respect is by acknowledging the deep ties that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to the land, their authority on cultural practices and through listening to Indigenous Australian speakers on how the future of reconciliation should look.
Why have an Indigenous Australian speaker at your event?
Firstly, it’s important to centre those with lived experience in any program or event about Australia’s traditional custodians. A welcome to country performed by an Indigenous Australian means you can rest easy knowing you have been formally invited to share the land your event is being held on. Nobody but an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person can perform a welcome to country, although you can perform an acknowledgement of country instead.
Many of Australia’s best known sporting personalities, for example, happen to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background. They are invaluable speakers at events focused on sport, diversity, inclusion and are excellent Indigenous guest speakers.
Sean Choolburra, proud Girramay, Kalkadoon, Pitta Pitta and Gugu Yalanji man, is one of Australia’s most popular and versatile Indigenous Australian performers and comedians. His long-standing career in the entertainment industry has seen him perform for the likes of the Dalai Lama and Prince Charles, host his own TV series and even feature on Playschool! At the heart of all Sean does is his passion to share his culture and make people laugh. He infuses both of these elements into all of his performances to make his shows memorable, educational and unique.
Another brilliant NAIDOC Week speaker is Australian music icon and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocate Christine Anu. With a 27-year career spanning across radio, music, stage and screen, she is one of Australia’s most popular recording artists and the winner of numerous awards. A celebrated national treasure, Christine uses her voice and reputation to spread a message of unity and hope. Christine is one of ICMI’s best diversity and inclusion keynote speakers and speaks with authority and humour.
Noel Pearson of the Guugu Yimidhirr community is another prominent Indigenous speaker and activist. Noel is a lawyer, academic, and land rights advocate with a career in activism and political reform that spans decades. He is also the founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, an organisation that promotes economic and social development of Cape York. Noel Pearson is a captivating speaker who has a wealth of knowledge to share about ongoing legal and political battles faced by the Indigenous community.
Professional Chef, Nornie Bero is a Torres Strait Islander woman hailing from the Komet Tribe of the Mer Island Meriam people. After working in prestigious restaurants for over 20 years in both Melbourne and London, she is more passionate than ever about sharing the ingredients she grew up with.
Whether you simply want to know more about native spices and sustainable proteins, or be further enlightened with her insights as a First Nations celebrity chef and female innovator carving her own path in the food business, Bero is sure to educate and inspire any audience.
Multi-award winning current affairs host, author and adventurer, Stan Grant is the Indigenous Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Appointed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as special advisor on Indigenous constitutional recognition in 2016, Stan is passionate about justice and humanity. Above all, he believes in the power and resilience of people.
ICMI is honoured to include many Indigenous motivational speakers and inspirational Indigenous speakers in our database.
NAIDOC week may no longer be exclusively centred around an Aboriginal day of mourning, but it is a time for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to reflect on this country’s history and commit to a better, more reconciled future for all Australians.
From all of the ICMI team, we hope you celebrate NAIDOC Week in a powerful way. We hope you can join all Australians in celebrating and honouring the rich culture, history and achievements of the original custodians of this land.