NAIDOC Week - A time to celebrate and reflect

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Taneale Lawton at her old school St Mary’s to celebrate NAIDOC Week speaking at podium.

NAIDOC Week is a significant event on the South West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) calendar every year.

Held in the first week of July, it is a time to celebrate and recognise the contribution, history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

By participating in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all of us to learn about First Nations cultures and histories.

The origins of NAIDOC, which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920’s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Across the country, thousands of people take part in hundreds of events to celebrate Indigenous cultures and this year’s theme brought a challenge for all of us, to join the cause to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

One of our staff members, Taneale Lawton, Indigenous Program Support Officer driving the development of our First Nations Health Equity Strategy, was invited to be the guest speaker at her old school St Mary’s as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Taneale shared with the school fond memories of her time at St Mary’s as well as how proud she felt walking the streets of the place she grew up her with her friends and family.

“NAIDOC is when we see a coming together of organisations, partners and people from all walks of life embracing the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s a sense of belonging and community that make us love Charleville, our home, so much,” she said.

“I commend those who each year continue to be part of this wonderful week and to those that go above and beyond and drive change every day.

“I distinctly remember when St Mary’s hosted NAIDOC events when I was still a student here. It’s a special feeling that I will never forget and it brings me joy to be back in a place where I have so many fond memories.”

Taneale said this year’s theme of ‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’ was about encouraging us to be champions of change while celebrating those who have already driven and led the way.

“I can think of a number of people now and even present here today that have changed my life and the impact they have had on me, and that motivates me to do the same with our younger generations,” she said.

“One of the most wonderful things about NAIDOC week, is the coming together of people from all walks of life to listen, learn and celebrate.

“It ignites a real sense of pride for me and drives me to be more and do more for not only myself, but for my family and those that have gone before me. I wouldn’t be here without their strength and resilience.”