As we say ‘goodbye’ to NAIDOC Week 2021, I find myself reflecting on the conversations I have seen in the media and across on social media over the last week – from Channel Ten’s weather segment, through to Australia Post’s new packaging – but I can’t help but want to see more support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Many of you may know me as Lauren Faulkner, Operations Director at P4 Group, but that is just one of the many hats that I wear. At my core, I am Lauren Faulkner, proud Waanyi woman, born and raised on Kalkadoon land and now building a life on Turrbal land.
I was raised with an appreciation for my culture and continue to learn more about the history and experiences of generations before me as an adult.
The theme for NAIDOC Week this year was Heal Country – a call for all Australians to embrace First Nation’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia's national heritage. An acknowledgement that the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders are respected equally to and the cultures and values of all Australians.
In the words of the National NAIDOC Committee –
“Healing Country is more than changing a word in our national anthem – it is about the historical, political, and administrative landscapes adapting to successfully empower and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, nations, and heritage
We are all looking for significant and lasting change.
We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
I’m not naïve enough to think that this change can, or will, happen overnight, but my hope is that the important conversations that happened throughout NAIDOC Week continue in offices, friendship groups and families all year round.
There are plenty of small ways to celebrate every day. You can reflect on the Indigenous role models you may have, educate yourself by watching a movie or reading a book about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, support local Indigenous businesses and musicians, research the traditional Indigenous owners of your area, or even challenge yourself to learn the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place names and words for areas across Australia.
Below I’ve listed some deadly Indigenous-run businesses and organisations that you can support today:
This organisation is particularly close to my heart, as my younger brother regularly volunteers with the organisation, to support their mission of empower young Aboriginal people to improve school attendance and performance, develop career pathways and work-ready skills, strengthen cultural pride and identity and build life skills, resilience and personal development. Each year over 1,200 young people directly benefit from NASCA’s work in one or more of their programs. The NASCA programs are multi-year, which enables them to foster community trust, whilst ensuring sustained engagement and ongoing positive results.
Cungelella Art was founded in 2019 by Kalkadoon woman Glenda McCulloch, as a vehicle for sharing her culture through modern Aboriginal art. It soon expanded as a collaboration to include Glenda’s sisters - Jaunita, Dale and Cheryl. Not only was the opportunity for business expansion presented as the demand for their art increased - the sisters were able to create a venture that allowed them to work closely together and spend quality time together as a family creating a legacy through their artwork.
3. Leon Design
Leon Design is a First Nations owned and operated creative consultant specialising in conceptual design to bring ideas to life. Founded and run by Waanyi and Kalkadoon woman, Keisha Leon, Leon Design is informed by over 10 years of experience in both commercial and client-side design.
Fun fact: Keisha and I share a mutual friend and, despite not knowing one another, recently learnt we share many family connections as Waanyi women.
Founded by Sharon Winsor, a Ngemba Weilwan woman from Western NSW, Indigiearth provides premium bush foods made from authentic Australian native products that are ethically sourced and sustainably harvested. Their range includes sweets, coffee, skin care, candles, essential oils and much more. Usurpingly, my recommendation is the chocolate coated macadamias… delish!
Clothing The Gaps is a Victorian Aboriginal owned and led social enterprise. They are a fresh and dynamic fashion label managed by health professionals that celebrate Aboriginal people and culture. They create Aboriginal designed merchandise and tees with a message.
Personally, I am blessed to have several strong Indigenous role models in my life, in my Dad, brother, aunts, uncles and family members past, present and emerging.
As Waanyi People we have shared a special relationship with the land. The land is not just rocks and mountains, canyons and soil, trees and rivers – each element of the environment has its own story of creation and inter-connectedness and we celebrate this.
I’m blessed to be a part of the oldest culture in the world and ask that everyone takes some time out to learn more about our history and how you can contribute to the success of future generations, while acknowledging the past.
If you’d like to connect more with me, my inbox is always open – [email protected]
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.