Heal Country! NAIDOC Week 4-11 July 2021

TDHS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country. Since 1945, almost seven million people have migrated to Australia (humanrights.gov.au) and this rich, cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths.

Australian culture is as broad and varied as the country’s landscape and this is reflected in the country’s food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience.

Australia’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, are believed to have migrated from some unknown point in Asia to Australia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago and Australia has an important heritage from its indigenous people, which plays a defining role in the cultural landscape.

The practice of Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country has been part of Indigenous cultures in Australia for many thousands of years and is of great significance to many Indigenous people. Many organisations, including Timboon and District Healthcare Service, have started to incorporate an Acknowledgement to Country at the start of a meeting and event.

Bangerang man, Scott Kneebone, says “a Welcome to Country is like you’re hosting a birthday: you do a welcome and say thank you for coming to my birthday. And an Acknowledgement of Country is like if you’re a guest at the birthday: you would say thank you for having me.”

Many non-Indigenous Australians have not had the opportunity to engage with the rich cultures and stories of First Nations people in meaningful ways. This contributes to the divide between non-Indigenous and First Nations people, and limits opportunities for learning and connection.

Acknowledging Country, or asking an Elder to perform a Welcome to Country, recognises First Nations people as the original custodians. Importantly, it promotes awareness of the histories and cultures of First Nations people, and the resilience of our connection to Country.

NAIDOC Week 2021 is being held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July and this year’s NAIDOC 2021 theme is Heal Country! It 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. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity.

It is an opportunity for the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians.

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