NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.
At Orygen, staff from across the organisation honoured the importance of NAIDOC week by participating in a range of activities.
One of the activities saw approximately 30 staff and young people participate in an art workshop with First Nations artist, Emrhan Tjapanangka Sultan, where they learned about Aboriginal symbols and stories told through paintings and created their own take-home art.
A Welcome to Country was provided by Aunty Janet Galpin on behalf of Parbin-ata Carolyn Briggs AM and the Boon Wurrung Foundation where she explained the historical significance of Welcome to Country, a practice that has existed for thousands of years.
Requesting a Welcome to Country by the Traditional Custodians of the land is an acknowledgement and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to land and sea that has continued for more than 60,000 years.
Following Aunty Janet’s Welcome, David Tournier of the Boon Wurrung Foundation guided staff through a smoking ceremony, explaining its role in Welcome and other cultural practices. The ceremony and the act of bathing in the smoke are part of a cleansing process that has spiritual, physical and emotional significance.
The ceremony took place under the magnificent gum tree located outside the café area at Orygen, and the leaves of a range of local eucalypts were burnt to acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal peoples and of those present.
It was a day staff gathered in unity to celebrate, respect and honour the many achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.