NAIDOC Week highlights importance of Country

A singalong with musician Christine Anu and the planting of 1000 native trees in schools across NSW marks NAIDOC Week 2021 at the NSW Education Department

Image: NAIDOC Week celebrations are in full swing at the Department

Representing all 54 Aboriginal nations of NSW, around 12,000 public school students from 374 schools across the state were involved in a special week of celebrations last term (21-25 June).

Tanya Neal, Director, Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships, said a team of people passionate about celebrating Aboriginal history, culture and achievements planned a number of celebratory activities to bring to life this year’s NAIDOC theme – Heal Country!

“This year's theme, Heal Country, allowed us to celebrate and raise awareness of Aboriginal Culture and the importance of Country, Ms Neal said.

“From sea to desert sands we came together in schools and corporate offices to share stories and celebrate NAIDOC week 2021.

“We did this with our Virtual Education Message Stick, which is dedicated to celebrate the history, achievements and culture of Aboriginal peoples within NSW Schools.

“The Message Stick travelled over many NSW Aboriginal lands to showcase Aboriginal students’ connection to Country and Culture and culminated with a virtual singalong with Christine Anu and students from across NSW.

“Events like NAIDOC Week are an ideal opportunity to highlight our commitment to Aboriginal education and celebrate the achievements of our staff and students,” she said.

The week-long celebration kicked off with tree-planting ceremonies at more than 20 schools, held in partnership with Landcare Australia, across the State on Darug Wiradjuri and Gumbaynggir Country.

More than 1,000 native trees were planted as part of the initiative, which provides students the opportunity to play an active role in ensuring the safe future of their environment.

Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation showcased their mobile learning centre and shared their stories of the impact of the Stolen Generation.

The department also partnered up with Magabala Books - the only Indigenous owned publishing house in Australia- to encourage schools to increase their stock of Indigenous children’s and young adult’s book titles by offering a 50 per cent discount.

Together with Christine Anu, students from 124 schools celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage by singing ‘My Island Home’ and ‘Taba Naba’.

The celebrations were officially launched at the Department of Education’s Parramatta State office on Tuesday, 22 June with a smoking ceremony.

Videos and a highlight reel of the events can be viewed on the department’s NAIDOC Week 2021 page.

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