Smoking ceremonies and boomerang throwing aren’t usual activities at Anglicare offices but they are two of the exciting cultural activities that took place at Anglicare’s Western NSW office during NAIDOC week. Children, carers and staff took part in a range of activities throughout the week that helped them understand the significance and depth of the local aboriginal culture. Children and young people of Aboriginal background are still over-represented in the foster care system and events like this are critical to helping them celebrate and connect with their language and culture.
Local Wiradjuri elder, Pete Peckham commenced the NAIDOC week celebrations conducting a smoking ceremony.
“Opportunities like this to teach young people helps keep our culture alive. It gives them greater insight in to who they are, strengthening their self-esteem, and it gives voice within the wider community to our incredible history. Everyone benefits from activities like this.” says Mr Peckham.
Throughout the week, the Family Contact Room was transformed into a vibrant space of enriching educational activities. Children at the centre were able to make aboriginal sand drawings learning the symbols for emu, kangaroo and ‘meeting place’, just to name a few. The arts and crafts table was filled with aboriginal artworks and art books, including some dreamtime stories too.
Freshly baked damper was the definite favourite at the staff afternoon tea held on Tuesday as NAIDOC celebrations continued throughout the week.
The team were also joined by James Williams for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services who showcased an array of hunting tools and various artifacts and explained what they were all used for. Staff and children also made their own small cardboard boomerangs and with a bit of friendly competition, held a series of boomerang throwing contests – just for fun, of course.
Thursday was a highlight of the week for many with a visit from ‘Aunty’ Sally and ‘Uncle’ Suth. They led the children in language lessons, didgeridoo playing, jewellery making (with coloured beads, emu feathers and echidna spikes) and performed a number of songs in Wiradjuri language.
Towards the end of the day, each of the children participated in a group painting experience and the compiled artwork was presented to Anglicare as a token to remember a special week of NAIDOC celebrations.
To conclude NAIDOC Week, staff and children travelled to Nowra to join the town’s NAIDOC Week March. The March was followed by a few hours of fun at the PCYC engaging with other people from Nowra who also came along to commemorate NAIDOC Week together as a community.
Anglicare staff, carers and local children had a wonderful time immersing themselves in indigenous Australian culture and coming together to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Anglicare’s Western NSW Area Manager, Carmel Swan said that she was proud of her team who worked tirelessly to organise the full week of NAIDOC events.
“They know the importance of providing opportunities like this, and they have put together activities that are relevant, sensitive, fun and inclusive. This is the direction that Anglicare wants to continue heading in.” says Ms Swan.