Dear families and friends,
Last week our College community held its NAIDOC Week Assembly and activities. I am very grateful to our student-led NAIDOC committee and Ms Beth Farmer, our Aboriginal Liaison Officer, for leading our community in developing a deeper understanding of the NAIDOC theme and the work of our Indigenous elders within our community.
Our assembly and activities throughout the week were framed around the 2023 NAIDOC theme, For Our Elders – a very powerful and relatable theme as everyone has elders in their life… grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles.
As I reflected on this theme, I thought about the elders within my life. Throughout different stages of my life I know that that they challenged me, especially as a teenager when I thought I knew it all but as an adult, I now have a greater understanding of their role and I am so grateful for how they have contributed to the person that I have become.
This year’s theme, For Our Elders, pays tribute to the invaluable contributions and wisdom shared by the Indigenous elders who hold the keys to their rich cultural heritage.
The Wisdom Keepers
In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, elders hold a special place. They are the keepers of knowledge, the guardians of traditions, and the bridge between the past and the future. Their wisdom is deeply rooted in the ancestral stories, cultural practices, and a profound connection with the land that has sustained their people for millennia.
Through their lived experiences, elders provide valuable guidance to younger generations, teaching the importance of respect, unity, and resilience. They impart lessons about sustainability, harmony, and the delicate balance between humans and nature.
Preserving Culture and Language
One of the most critical roles of Indigenous elders is to preserve and revitalise their unique languages and cultural practices. Language is the cornerstone of culture, and its preservation ensures that cultural knowledge is passed down from one generation to the next. In a rapidly changing world, Indigenous languages are facing the threat of extinction. Elders play an essential role in language revival efforts, working tirelessly to pass on their linguistic heritage to young people and revive cultural practices that have been suppressed or forgotten.
Leadership and Community
Elders have historically been the custodians of leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Their authority is earned through a lifetime of experience, commitment, and service to their people. Their leadership extends beyond their immediate communities, as many elders are prominent advocates for Indigenous rights, social justice, and reconciliation. They have played a significant role in shaping policies that protect the rights and interests of their communities and have been instrumental in fostering positive change.
The Wisdom of Connection
Elders emphasise the importance of connection, not only within their communities but also with the broader Australian society. Their teachings encourage respect, understanding, and cooperation among all Australians, fostering a sense of unity and common purpose. As we celebrate NAIDOC Week, it is essential to recognise the significance of forging meaningful relationships and acknowledging the unique contributions of Indigenous elders to the fabric of our nation.
As a Lasallian community, let us come together to honour and celebrate the wisdom, resilience, and contributions of our Indigenous elders. They are the heart and soul of their communities, guiding us towards a better future while holding onto the richness of their cultural heritage.
There’s was not an easy role but one that has changed our communities. It is their influence and through their teachings that we must ensure that as a community we continue to support one another – a truly Lasallian characteristic.
Giovanna Fiume | Principal