NAIDOC Week peak at Gympie Civic Centre

NAIDOC Week Celebrations in the Gympie region culminated yesterday with a special open day at the Gympie Civic Centre.

Naidoc, which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, traces back to the 1920s when Aboriginal rights groups emerged in the wake of European settlement in Australia.

A week dedicated to Naidoc officially ran from July 5-12, but yesterday's Gympie Civic Centre gathering was a final chance to celebrate this year's theme - sacred ground.

At the centre of proceedings yesterday was Cooloola Aboriginal Services Inc president Aunty Lillian Burke.

Aunty Lillian addressed the gathering yesterday with a speech touching on the importance of Naidoc Week.

Her speech carried many themes; the most important of which were pride, acknowledgement and shared respect.

The Aboriginal elder said she was "tireless" in her mission to educate about Aboriginal culture and heritage.

And while that meant taking pride in Aboriginal culture and history, it also meant addressing a difficult past for what Aunty Lillian described as "Australia's first land managers".

"It's not just something to get over," she said.

"We need to acknowledge the past, have an understanding of our history and work towards a future."

Education is vital and yesterday's gathering at the Civic Centre was timed with the first week back after school holidays.

Aunty Lillian said she enjoyed visiting schools and community groups to talk about Aboriginal history.

The light bulb moment, she said, always gave her great satisfaction and topped up her drive to remain an advocate.

"I get a lot of questions about why we celebrate (Naidoc Week) and even what it means," Aunty Lillian said.

"Being able to educate people and have that understanding is a good thing."

Beyond Naidoc Week, Aunty Lillian said she hoped moves to have the Aboriginal people recognised in Australia's Constitution would be successful.

Acknowledgment and recognition, she said, would be two powerful healing forces.

Gympie Times


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