Cire hosted a rich program of events and activities to mark NAIDOC Week 2021, give voice to First Nations People and contribute to healing country by acknowledging how we can take care of the land, the seas, the people and the Country.
Our core services worked together to present the week-long offerings, commencing with an opening Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at Chirnside Park Community Hub and concluding with a Didgeridoo performance at Mount Evelyn Children’s Centre. Yarra Junction Community hub showcased an exhibition of Indigenous art work and encouraged visitors to participate in creative activities while other sites incorporated NAIDOC Week and its 2021 theme of Heal Country into their learning programs. Some sites offered refreshments featuring Indigenous-inspired food further encouraging people to connect and reflect, share, learn and heal.
People of all ages and backgrounds participated and supported what was on offer supporting showing respect for the past, present and emerging First Nations People, the oldest continuous civilisation in the world dating back some 60,000 years.
NAIDOC Week 2021 was held from 4 to 7 July, during the school holidays and fortunately between lock downs in Victoria. Some of our activities were made possible by special NAIDOC Week funding through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)
At Chirnside Park, Uncle Dave performed a traditional Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony, Emmy from Warrack Yambo told dream time stories and helped create little echidnas out of sticks and clay, and local Indigenous woman Sandy Mayberry organised a display of beautiful hand-made artwork. Those present then worked together to create a map of Australia with their handprints in the colours of the aboriginal flag to signify unity. The children also played a traditional aboriginal game called Koolchi. Children from Cire’s Out of School Hours Care vacation program also joined in as they were fortunate to attend the Chirnside Park opening event as an excursion.
Yarra Junction Community Hub was transformed into a gallery for the week featuring informative, cultural posters and Indigenous First Nations artwork. Other activities included a display of living native plants that could be touched and researched to see how Indigenous people’s use/d them, colouring activities and worksheets, map and location scouting activities, translation sheets, and a published Indigenous book about our local area. More than 35 people enjoyed a morning tea of wattle seed damper, lemon myrtle biscuits, lemon shortbread, and dairy free/gluten free shortbread.
Mount Evelyn Children’s Centre hosted a special day on the Friday to conclude Cire’s official NAIDOC Week activities. The program included a Welcome to Country by Aunty Kim Wandin, a descendent of the Wurundjeri Tribe, born and raised nearby at Healesville, and with family links to the Corranderk Aboriginal Station in Healesville. Aunty Kim shared her story and pathways to heal her Country and also her history. It was a moving Welcome, in which she shared a gum leaf and by accepting the leaf those present promised to be positive advocates and allies for the First Nations Peoples and help care for their Country.
The Kookaburra children performed their Acknowledgement to Country which they do every day in the Kookaburra Room, but it was a particular honour to do so for Aunty Kim and visiting guests from other Traditional Lands around Australia.
Ganga Giri from Didgeridoo Australia entertained everyone with the Yidaki, (didgeridoo), had everyone up and dancing and creating animals and movements and guessing the sounds he was creating. The children were particularly excited to listen to the vibrations of the Yidaki.
To show Cire’s ongoing commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, Children’s Services Executive Director, Diletta Lanciana, explained Cire’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which will focus on inclusive and educational programs and practice and building capacity and understanding among educators.