NAIDOC Week

Whitsunday Times - - YOUR SAY -

THIS week (July 8-15) is NAIDOC Week across Aus­tralia. Fol­low­ing this year’s theme of “be­cause of her, we can” I want to tell you about the im­por­tance of women in all the work I do es­pe­cially within my Abo­rig­i­nal Ser­vices.

Women play a sig­nif­i­cant role in Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der cul­ture and this NAIDOC week we are asked to re­flect on their con­tri­bu­tion to the growth and de­vel­op­ment of our coun­try.

For at least 65,000 years Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der women have car­ried dream­ing sto­ries, song lines, lan­guages and knowl­edge. In more re­cent times they have been there at the fore­front of ma­jor turn­ing points in Aus­tralian cul­ture and his­tory. From the Tor­res Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, to the 1967 Ref­er­en­dum – which in­cluded Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait peo­ples in Aus­tralia’s pop­u­la­tion fig­ures – to more mod­ern is­sues such as the 2008 apol­ogy, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait is­lan­der women have been a driv­ing force for Abo­rig­i­nal rights.

Hav­ing strong fe­male role mod­els is ab­so­lutely cru­cial to help­ing young peo­ple grow. Not only is it im­por­tant for young women, but young men draw so much from mothers, grand­moth­ers, aun­ties and friends. Across my or­gan­i­sa­tion, Youth Off The Streets, we have fe­male staff in ev­ery pro­gram, from schools to out­reach to spe­cial­ist ser­vices, the women in our pro­grams con­trib­ute enor­mous amounts to bet­ter­ing the lives of young peo­ple.

We have so much to learn from Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ples and their cul­ture. There are many in­spir­ing sto­ries from women on the NAIDOC week web­site at: www.naidoc.org.au. This NAIDOC week I ask you to re­flect on the theme of “be­cause of her, we can” and think about how im­por­tant women have been in supporting you and your com­mu­nity.

— Fa­ther Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth

Off The Streets

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