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City of Whittlesea celebrates NAIDOC Week

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By Pam Kiriakidis

National Aboriginals and Islanders Day Observance Committee, NAIDOC, events were celebrated across the City of Whittlesea last week, with workshops and family-friendly events.

An annual event in the first week of July, NAIDOC week recognises the cultures and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Focusing on this year’s theme ‘For Our Elders’, City of Whittlesea council staff, Federal Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell and State Member for Mill Park Lily D’Ambrosio, gathered for a morning tea at Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre on Monday last week.

Wurundjeri elder Uncle Ian Hunter showing the didgeridoo to children at Whittlesea Community Centre for NAIDOC Week. ​

Attendees were informed with updates on council’s major projects supporting First Nations people such as the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Quarry Hills, and development of a new Reconciliation Action Plan. 

Other events included a pop-up playgroup at Whittlesea Community Centre on Wednesday to enjoy Aboriginal-themed children’s activities, arts and craft and stories. 

Amber Smith and her daughters Peyton and Quinn making arts and crafts at the NAIDOC Week playgroup pop-up event at Whittlesea Community Centre on Wednesday. ​

Wurundjeri elder Uncle Ian Hunter was the guest entertainer, sharing stories about his great-great grandmother who was born at Plenty River in 1835.

Uncle Ian said the idea was to engage children through humour and stories.  

“You got to intrigue things like even a little boomerang that I flick up, that’s an intriguing thing to interest kids in Aboriginality,” he said.  

“We need to get away from making non-Indigenous people or people that don’t have any Indigenous heritage … from making those people feel guilty, so the idea is to intrigue kids with a bit of humour, a bit of little intricate things.” 

Whittlesea Playgroup, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, City of Whittlesea and Yarra Plenty Regional Library were key partners in the playgroup event.

Whittlesea Playground president Cara Lewis said the children were exposed to Aboriginal tools, including boomerangs and spears, as part of their learning.

“NAIDOC Week is a really great opportunity for children to reflect and focus on what Aboriginal culture is and why it’s important to them. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily something that they are exposed to all the time,” she said. 

Teenagers aged 12 to 18 were also included in NAIDOC celebrations, with a teen workshop at Laurimar Community Activity Centre on Wednesday. 

Indigenous Outreach Projects, a culturally diverse national collective who showcase their passion through music and dance to connect with youth, hosted a dance workshop to embrace the artistry of First Nations people dances.  

Wakka Wakka Yuggera woman and mob dancer Jordan O’Davis said the workshop was to support youth in understanding Indigenous culture through movement.

“We’d speak a lot about our culture, obviously, this is a multicultural company, so we teach the kids animals in our warmups, we get to showcase our traditional dance to the kids at the start, and then the rest is just follow and copy along,” she said.  

“They’ll definitely learn from what we’ve got to offer, no shame, be proud and respect – they are three really strong key words that we give out from our company.” 

The council’s Aboriginal Communities Department will host a special screening on July 14 of the film ‘The Last Daughter’ and a live question and answer session with Brenda who’s journey is presented in the film. 

To book for the screening, visit here.

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