June 28, 2023
Five ways to celebrate NAIDOC Week
From this Sunday 2 July until the following Sunday, 9 July, Australians will mark NAIDOC Week, an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We’ve created a list below of five ways you could celebrate NAIDOC Week in your community.
“They guide our generations and pave the way for us to take the paths we can take today."
The NAIDOC Week theme for 2023 is “For Our Elders”, a tribute to the important role played by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders in their communities and in our nation.
The description of the theme on the NAIDOC website reflects on the role played by Elders across generations as “cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones.”
“They guide our generations and pave the way for us to take the paths we can take today. Guidance, not only through generations of advocacy and activism, but in everyday life and how to place ourselves in the world,” it reads.
The history of NAIDOC Week dates back to the first ‘Day of Mourning’ marked by a group of over 1000 Aboriginal people gathered at Australia Hall in Sydney calling for full citizenship status and laws to improve the lives of First Nations people. National NAIDOC Week has grown to become both a commemoration of the first Day of Mourning, and a celebration of the history, culture and excellence of First Nations People.
Here are five ways you might consider celebrating NAIDOC Week in your worship or community gatherings. Further below are ideas from the NAIDOC Week supporter’s toolkit.
1. Include a NAIDOC Week prayer in your worship.
Pray together using one of the prayers below from the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle, or write one of your own, giving thanks for our First Nations Elders and praying for future generations of First Nations people.
For and with Elders
And so we are called to honour Elders, past and present
Not just in the now
But in the long time ago
Woven in the forever time
For and with Elders
May the Creator call us all to hear the ancient wisdom of the lands, skies and waterways
Ways of knowing and being
Ways of growing and seeing
For and with Elders
May the struggles of past and present endured by our Elders
Carry us to a place of justice
Guided by their resilience, struggle and survival
For and with Elders
We give thanks for the richness and guidance of UAICC Elders, past and present
Let us be committed to listen, hear and honour,
Giving thanks for those Elders in our circle, space and place
Feeling their presence and strength in each step
For and with Elders
As we lean into NAIDOC Week, we lean into:
Creator, today let the wisdom and knowledge of our Elders be heard in every surrounding
Voices of strength, whisper across milaythina ningee
We pray, for and with Elders
Today, tomorrow and in the forever time.
- Alison Overeem
O breath of life
These verses that can be sung to ‘ O Breath of life’. (TiS 409)
O Breath, O life-force of creation,
Spirit who speaks in ancient tongue,
come bring your blessing for our Elders
Past, present and the ones to come.
O breath of life, uphold and guard them.
Speak through their words the truth we need.
Open our hearts and lives to listen.
Weave us in love as we receive.
- Rev Jennie Gordon
A translation of these prayers into Korean and Chinese (traditional) has been made available with thanks to Seung Jae Yeon (Korean) and Carmen Lam (Chinese) from Boronia Park Uniting Church. Download here
2. Listen to the Uluru Statement from the Heart being read.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to walk together for a better future. As we prepare for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament, one of three key requests contained in the Statement, take time in your worship listen to a recording of the statement being read aloud.
- Midnight Oil - Uluru Statement from the Heart (Read by First Nations collaborators). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWoIgPyQTK4
- Professor Megan Davis, member of the Referendum Council, the person chosen to deliver the statement to the Australian people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJrHStMY1Gg
- Finding Our Heart - A story about the Uluru Statement for young Australians: Author Thomas Mayor reads his new book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEqbxdtS13Q
- Listen in your language – recordings of the Statement read in many languages, including First Nations languages and Auslan. https://ulurustatement.org/education/translations/
3. Print out the 2-page resource on the Voice to Parliament or show the PowerPoint slides in your worship.
Initiate a conversation about the Voice to Parliament with this resource created by the Assembly. Print and share the document or show the PowerPoint in your worship. https://uniting.church/a-voice-to-parliament-in-2-pages/
4. Watch a video.
Watch one of our Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress members share some of their story and journey in interviews recordedat the recent UAICC National Conference. You may like to watch the video on the NAIDOC Week website about the theme ‘For our Elders’ or Common Grace has produced this beautiful video of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people sharing what they love about and have learnt from their Elders.
5. Choose a resource from the Living the Covenant Locally and commit to completing a small group study or discussing it as a group.
Find resources to learn more, dive deeper into theology and to take action. https://uniting.church/livingthecovenantlocally/
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