NAIDOC Week 2020

11 November 2020

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2020 is ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’, recognising that First Nations people have occupied and cared for Australia for more than 65,000 years.

Traditionally NAIDOC Week events are held across Australia in July to celebrate the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year the official event was postponed due to the pandemic and falls this week from 8-15 November.

At the University of Notre Dame we observed the traditional July dates with a special celebration on Friday 10 July at our Fremantle Campus. A socially distanced ceremony was held on campus to highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s spiritual and cultural connection to this country. Nyungar Elder Marie Taylor delivered a Welcome to Country, followed by a keynote address from Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker and an exhibition by Indigenous artist Neta Knapp.

“Culture and identity always was and always will be vital to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people because culture is the heart of our security, health, healing and happiness, and identity is the foundation of culture. It identifies that I am part of the Aboriginal community and that my children have that connection with other kids. They feel that they belong and have a group of people that they connect with,” said Professor Kickett-Tucker.

Following the event, National Director of Indigenous Education Associate Professor Clive Walley said that the theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is not only about highlighting the importance of culture, place and identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also about helping non-Indigenous Australians understand what ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ means for them.

To mark NAIDOC Week 2020 this month, below we are sharing stories from over the past year that showcase the contribution our local Indigenous communities have made to the University, as well as how the University has been working to support reconciliation...

Notre Dame’s School of Medicine honoured Traditional Owners of Fremantle with Nyungar signage.
In an informal ceremony earlier this year, Notre Dame’s School of Medicine in Fremantle unveiled Aboriginal signage throughout the building featuring Nyungar wording in a historic step towards further reconciliation. Nyungar Elder Marie Taylor, said it was “fantastic to see the most ancient Aboriginal people in the world being honoured”. Read more here.

Award-winning Aboriginal author, Anita Heiss, gave a guest lecture to Notre Dame writing students.
Dr Anita Heiss, a proud Wiradjuri woman and one of Australia’s most respected Aboriginal authors, recently joined Notre Dame students to talk about her memoir, Am I Black Enough For You? A passionate advocate for reading, writing and literacy, Dr Heiss is an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and spoke about the recent explosion of interest in Aboriginal literature. “Literature has a great role to tell us stories about history, to record history, to tell us stories about cultures, countries and societies.” Read more here.

Indigenous student, Kelly Reynolds, was named 2020 Premier’s Science Award finalist.
Second year Notre Dame Medicine student Kelly Reynolds has been selected as a finalist for Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year for her work in Aboriginal healthcare. The list of 19 finalists in the awards, which recognise and celebrate the outstanding scientific research and engagement taking place across the State, was released on the eve of National Science Week. Kelly is a Nyungar woman from the Esperance region and has a passion for science and research. She has previously worked as a Research Project Officer with the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health (UWA) in conjunction with the NHMRC funded National Institute of Dementia Research to develop an Indigenous Dementia Roadmap & Action Plan. Read more here.

An Indigenous artwork marked the 20th Anniversary of the School of Nursing & Midwifery.
Artist Neta Knapp was commissioned to create a painting of special significance to celebrate the anniversary of Notre Dame’s School of Nursing & Midwifery in Fremantle. Hear Neta speak about the meaning of the artwork in this video below:

A new scholarship was launched for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on the Sydney Campus.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP announced in April that the Archdiocese will fund a scholarship program through Notre Dame University, aimed at making tertiary education more accessible for students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. The Aunty Elsie Indigenous Support Scholarship, worth $2500 per year and covering up to three years of undergraduate study, is named in honour of Wiradjuri Elder, Elsie Heiss, who has led Aboriginal Catholic Ministry programs for over three decades and was NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year in 2009. Elsie was awarded an honorary doctorate by Notre Dame in 2010 in recognition of her decades of service to the Catholic Church in promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Read more here.

The Manjaree Mia Kaart Project – A Meeting Place of Learning.
Watch this short documentary about the Manjaree Mia Kaart Project:

Find out more about NAIDOC Week and events near you here.

Media Contact: Breyon Gibbs : +61 8 9433 0569 |