NAIDOC Week 2017 - Our Languages Matter

NAIDOC week is upon us (2 to 9 July 2017) and it’s a weeklong celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, history, culture and achievements. NAIDOC stands for National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee.

This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’, which focuses on the role language plays, especially through story (song and dance) when connecting people with country, waters, culture, ancestors and history.

Our amazing headspace centres in Australia have been working closely with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and they’re incorporating local language into their centres and acknowledging the First People, country and history of where their centre is based. Read on to find out more.
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headspace Townsville
Since opening in 2008, headspace Townsville has built relationships with local Traditional Owners; the Bindal and Wulgurukaba peoples. They are very keen on connecting with Elders to support young people accessing the centre’s services and programs. This also ensures cultural inclusiveness of programs and including Traditional ceremonies at the centre.
Over the years, the centre has been privileged to have had Aunty Renata Prior, Elder of the Birra-Gubba Nation to deliver Welcome to Country in Traditional language following a smoking ceremony when the centre opened in 2014.
Bindal Elder Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood provided local knowledge to the Youth Reference Group, complemented by ongoing collaboration and consultation with Aunty Jenny Wyles on the cultural protocols for the centre and throughout the development of Karrikin.
Culture Acknowledgment is also shown in the headspace Townsville virtual tour and YAChT shirts, both of which proudly show the artwork of their local young person, Taz Clay.
headspace Townsville worked closely with Bindal Elder Aunty Jenny, with permission and on behalf of both the Bindal and Wulgurukaba Elders, to ensure the wording of their Acknowledgement plaque commits to recognising the Traditional Owners by including  Birra- Gubba language (spoken by Bindal Traditional Owners) for greeting – ‘Wadda Mooli’ and 'Ahgon nubie nable' - Wulgurukaba language for Welcome – Hello.
headspace Midland
headspace Midland developed “Kwop Wirrin Wangkiny” (Strong Spirit Talking), which refers to what we are thinking, saying and doing, and how young people can change these thoughts and actions by identifying with positive Noongar words. The centre have created a banner and posters which are present at all community events they attend which drives positive conversations among all audiences in their community.
As well as this, headspace Midland also have their very own Aboriginal Reference Group! They meet monthly to map out plans for local Aboriginal initiatives for their community. The group is made up of many local Aboriginal organisations including: Swan City Council, Swan City Youth Services, Youthlink, Derbal Yerrigan Health Services, Governor Stirling Senior High School and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

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Hampton SHS R U OK Day

headspace Coffs Harbour
In Coffs Harbour, the centre felt there was an opportunity to pay their respects, to the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the land, water and air of the Coffs Coast: the people of the Gumbaynggirr Nation.
The first step was to, as a team, decide on the wording of their own Acknowledgement plaque.
With their lead agency GenHealth, they took the wording to the Coffs Harbour and District Aboriginal Land Council and sought the Elders support of the Acknowledgement. Following this, and on the advice of the Elders, Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative was approached and asked if they would consider a translation of the Acknowledgement in Gumbaynggirr language. Through incredible generosity of these Elders, headspace Coffs Harbour has the most beautiful Acknowledgement of Country plaque, recognising the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians written in both English and Gumbaynggirr language!
headspace Devonport & heaspace  Launceston
headspace Devonport proudly acknowledges the Punnilerpanner clan, a traditional clan of the North Nation of people who lived, hunted and journeyed across various river systems that mark the North and North West area of the state.
The centre is fortunate to have an Aboriginal elder, Dr Aunty Patsy Cameron (AO), who shares information about local traditional clans and has provided advice on important things to say on their very own plaque, acknowledging country.
It’s important for headspace Devonport to recognise and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the areas. It is also very important to acknowledge the ongoing living culture that exist in these areas and the connection Tasmanian Aboriginal people have to their country. As well as the four clans acknowledged from two nations, the centre pays respect to the remaining seven nations whose clans occupied other areas in our wonderful state of Trouwunna (Tasmania).
headspace Launceston proudly display their Acknowledgement of Country plaque and artwork which acknowledges their traditional clan groups of where the centre is located.
The centre is based in a unique part of Tasmania, where two rivers meet and flow into the wider Tamar River. Traditionally, the centre sits where three clan groups of the Stoney Creek Nation came together for ceremony, connection and healing. headspace Launceston is honoured to acknowledge the Tyrenoterpanner, Panninher and the Leetermairreener clans.

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Many centres across the headspace network will be participating in and hosting events and activities during NAIDOC week. If you have a centre nearby, pop in to find out what their plans are.

For more information about NAIDOC 2017, visit: