NAIDOC Week 202008/11/2020
Sunday saw the commencement of NAIDOC Week, an opportunity for all Australians to come together and celebrate the rich history and culture of our Indigenous people. Our founder and Managing Director, Hayley Blieden reflects on the theme of 2020; Always Was, Always Will be.
Indigenous Australians are the Earth’s oldest civilisation. They have adapted to the land, innovated and invented for tens of thousands of years. They’ve been through major weather events – floods, fires, meteorites… even the Ice Age! Bruce Pascoe, educator and author of Dark Emu, suggested at a Sydney Science Week event in 2016 that Indigenous Australians may have even been the first people in the world to bake bread.
The theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week really strikes a chord with me. That despite the sophistication and innovation of thousands of years of Indigenous culture on this land, there remains a lack of respect and understanding within the wider Australian community.
A few months ago, we saw the devastating destruction of the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto, and in recent weeks, a centuries-old birthing tree cut down to make way for a new highway.
Aboriginal Victorians have been working for years to protect the state’s birthing trees, where local Djab Wurrung women traditionally went to give birth. Years ago, each Djab Wurrung child was given their own tree just after they were born; their placenta was planted with a seed, and as it grew, it became that child’s own directions tree. It was a place they could go for guidance, for comfort, for peace. Many believe these ancient trees carry their DNA, and act as guardians. Djab Wurrung activists have likened the cultural importance of these trees to churches, and other sacred areas.
The world watched on as part of the Notre Dame cathedral burned down in 2019. Funds were quickly raised to restore it. But when it comes to the destruction of culturally significant sites in Australia, there seems to be a disconnect. Compare the outcry from some non-Indigenous Australians when climbs at Uluru were banned; they wouldn’t stand for people climbing over ANZAC memorials, or touching Michelangelo’s Statue of David, right?
To me, it’s the same thing. I believe the only way we can achieve reconciliation and stand as one, is if we respect these significant sites as if they were our own. And if we don’t understand why a tree or a gorge might be important, it’s our job to learn.
This makes me think about my own circumstances. I own a small property with my family, but due to our home’s heritage listing, we need to jump through countless hoops if we want to renovate, build a fence or move a tree. I need to fill out forms, get permission from neighbours, and seek council approval.
Yet important Indigenous sites can be destroyed with zero consideration. It makes no sense to me.
In order for us to come together, we need to stand together. All of us. We need reconciliation. We need Treaty. Can you believe Australia is the only country in the Commonwealth that doesn’t have Treaty with its First Nations Peoples?
It’s time that all Australians – particularly our leaders – start addressing the true history of this country, acknowledge the trauma felt by so many Indigenous communities, and commit to working together towards a solution.
This NAIDOC Week, I will be learning more about the country on which I live. I’ll be talking to my kids about Indigenous culture, and reading them stories, like Brother Moon and Mad Magpie. I’ll be supporting Indigenous-owned businesses. And I’ll be acknowledging that Australia always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.
Written by, Hayley Blieden
Founder & Managing Director, at The Australian Superfood Co.News