Reflections on NAIDOC Week 2019

NAIDOC Week is integral to the Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program’s work and forms a foundation of our approach to translation. It is an opportunity to share and translate research findings and project updates back to participating communities. It also provides us with a wonderful opportunity to hear stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to share in cultural celebratory practices.

Each year highlights a different theme, with this year being ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future’.  NeuRA’s Aboriginal Health and Ageing program aims to foreground and honour the stories of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in their own words, alongside extensive research data.

NeuRA staff attended NAIDOC events in support of local Aboriginal communities. Team members of the Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program hosted stalls at Coffs Harbour (Who Ya Gunna Call Health Forum), Kempsey (Burrun Dalai Family Fun Day), Campbelltown (Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Family Fun Day) and Cronulla (Sutherland Shire & Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation Celebration).

These days were a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and cultures, and it was a privilege to spend time talking to the people attending the events (including community members and service providers) and join in the celebrations. Other events held at the La Perouse Health and Medical Centre (Elders Morning Tea) and Redfern (NAIDOC Family Day) provided opportunities to join in the celebrations.

Staff also attended the UNSW Faculty of Medicine Story Telling event, which highlighted the challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff face when entering into the academic sector. Some of the issues highlighted included stereotypes around low expectations, juggling multiple roles in the community, and feeling isolated in a non-Indigenous space.

A clear message was put forth: that Aboriginal people have many important insights that must be incorporated into research and health if we want to improve our practices. Another take away from all of the speakers at the UNSW event was the importance of listening – you can’t adequately address the needs of the community without listening to peoples’ stories.

From those who participated in NAIDOC week celebrations this year, we would encourage everyone to get involved in events next year and help recognise and honour our First Nations Australians.

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1 – Terry at the Aboriginal Health and Ageing stall in Coffs Harbour. 

2 – Aboriginal Health and Ageing Team members at their stall in Cronulla (Lauren, Kylie, Louise, Maddie and Alison).

3 – Aboriginal Health and Ageing Team members at their stall in Tharawal, Campbelltown (back: Rebecca, Lena, Belinda, Ell and Sharon; front: Scarlett and Levi).

4 – Stacey at the Aboriginal Health and Ageing stall in Kempsey. 

Words & images by Dr Louise Lavrencic & Ellen Finlay on behalf of the NeuRA Reconciliation Action Plan working group and Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program

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