Last week staff, students and friends of The University of Notre Dame Australia Fremantle Campus came together to celebrate and acknowledge NAIDOC Week and the theme ‘Heal Country’. This theme calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
In a ceremony held on Friday 23 July, WA Senior Australian of the Year 2021 Dr Richard Walley OAM said that healing country involved our responsibility to support and be advocates for Aboriginal people and culture.
“The plants, animals, rivers and the landscapes allowed a balance that enabled Nyungar people to lead a healthy and stable lifestyle before colonisation. The newcomers could have more clearly listened, and that country could have continued to be cared for,” Dr Walley said.
Dr Walley also stressed the importance of including Aboriginal people as leaders, not simply consultants.
“Our shared history needs to include an understanding that there was a missed opportunity in not listening to Wadjuk people in the beginning. Along with this emphasis on listening there must be a commitment to Aboriginal people leading and not solely being brought in to advise on Aboriginal matters.
“Vice Chancellor Professor Francis Campbell provided a response to Dr Walley’s keynote address by referencing his own Northern Irish heritage and emphasising the importance, for those who do not know Aboriginal history, is to listen and seek understanding”.
“I come to this topic as an outsider, but as someone who is from a country that appreciates and understands the importance of reconciliation. Reconciliation starts with acknowledging and resolving the many outstanding injustices which have impacted on the lives of so many Indigenous people for generations.”
I encourage us all to reflect on what NAIDOC means for each and every one of us, now and into the future.
National Director of Indigenous Education Associate Professor Clive Walley said it was a privilege and honour to have Richard here this morning and for our staff to hear his story and his important message to healing our country. The knowledge and wisdom that he shared, gave us all an opportunity to think, reflect and listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because their voices need to be heard.
Attendees were then treated to a didgeridoo duet between well-known Aboriginal actor and performer Mr. Derek Nannup and Dr Walley. Derek described to the audience that the sounds of the digeridoo allow everyone to understand the expression of the animals like the kookaburra, dingo, and kangaroo in the spiritual lives of Aboriginal people.
Following the formal ceremony, attendees were then led onto Mouat street for the flag raising and then shared in some light refreshments in Prindiville Hall and having the opportunity to look at some paintings by Nyungar artists Elder Neta Knapp and Linda Loo from Linlelu Arts.
Check out some photos from the event in our gallery below. For more information on NAIDOC Week and ‘Heal Country’, visit the NAIDOC website.
Media Contact: Breyon Gibbs : +61 8 9433 0569 | firstname.lastname@example.org