NAIDOC (The National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee’) Week is a time for celebration. It’s a time where across Australia, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Peoples. The theme for the 2019 NAIDOC Week is “Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together.”
The 2019 NAIDOC theme is a reference to the Statement from the Heart. The Statement was made by the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in May 2017 at Uluru. It was a historical moment in Australian history as the coming together of 250 First Peoples’ leaders to articulate the nature of reforms desired by First Peoples. The Statement proposes the following reforms; a First Nations voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a treaty process and truth-telling.
2019 is also the ‘United Nations International Year of Indigenous Language’. In Australia, 90% of Indigenous languages are considered endangered. At the time of colonization in 1788, more than 250 Indigenous languages were spoken in Australia, which included 800 dialect varieties. Currently, only 13 traditional languages are still being acquired by children. A further 100 are still spoken by some community members, but their language is at risk of being lost when the existing speakers pass away. Language is more than just communication, it’s an integral part of individual and community identity. Words, their meaning and etymology, carry with them history and culture passed on through the speaking of language. The loss of a language is known as linguicide.
Linguicide in Australia is due to the ongoing and profound impact of colonizastion in the communities of First Peoples. By allowing this to continue, the notion of ‘strength through diversity’ that underpins our society’s celebration of multiculturalism is eroded. The First Peoples of this land never ceded sovereignty, and unlike Second Peoples, their communities are not Diasporas. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, culture and identity must be celebrated as essential, and fundamental pillars of both an ancient and modern Australia before true reconciliation can occur.
With a theme of ‘Voice, Treaty and Truth’, the 2019 NAIDOCweek is an opportunity to explore the true story of colonialism and its lasting impact. The Statement from the Heart suggests a way toward substantive reconciliation in Australia by allowing First Peoples to have a say in their future. This year, NAIDOC Week invites you to engage with the Statement from the Heart made at the steps Uluru in 2017, listen to the voice within it, and work together towards true reconciliation in Australia.
To find events during NAIDOC Week, visit:
To read the Statement from the Heart, visit: