Curtin University of Technology concluded its NAIDOC Week activities with a joint celebration held at the University’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) on its Bentley campus recently.
The event was held by CAS and the Department of Human Services agencies Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency. This is the third year that Curtin and the Department of Human Services have jointly promoted NAIDOC Week. The theme for this year was Honouring our Elders, Nurturing our Youth.
Over 120 guests were entertained by Aboriginal dancers, singers and guest speakers. In a touching gesture, guests were given specially created message sticks designed and created by youth of the Banksia Hill and Rangeview Remand Centres.
Watch edited highlights of the NAIDOC Week celebration held at Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies. [20.50 minutes]
Pat Foot, Manager of Indigenous Services for Centrelink and coordinator of the project, says the message sticks are a way of changing the perception of kids in these institutions.
‘It’s about them giving something back to the community. On the message sticks there are little stories… interpretations of what NAIDOC means to them. They’re absolutely beautiful.’
‘As an Aboriginal person I often hear negative things about these kids and I wanted to change that. I’ve said to them there has got to be a way we can change.’
‘They were very proud of what they did. They’d come up to me and say this is the one that I did and here’s my story. These kids are really proud of what they’ve done… they’ve done a great job.’
Director of CAS, Associate Professor Anita Lee Hong, said that this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations were a resounding success.
‘NAIDOC Week this year has been bigger and better than before. We’ve had a great turn out. Next year we expect more agencies to come on board. Hopefully next year we’ll have a whole week of events.’
This year’s NAIDOC Week has also been a time for reflection. It’s been over a year since the Rudd Government’s Apology to the Stolen Generations and the launch of Curtin’s own Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a point not lost on Associate Professor Lee Hong.
‘It’s been a good year for Curtin. Our Reconciliation Action Plan has promoted Aboriginal education right across the campus, our research funds have increased, our employment of Aboriginal staff is increasing and we’ve received national recognition from Reconciliation Australia and other universities.’