Every July in Australia, NAIDOC Week celebrations take place to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The NAIDOC 2021 theme is Heal Country and calls for all of us to seek greater protection of our lands, waters, sacred sites, and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Healing Country means resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact the lives of our people.
What is NAIDOC Week?
Originally, NAIDOC stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Find out more about the origins and history of NAIDOC Week.
How Children at Gowrie Got Involved
As the theme for NAIDOC Week 2021 was ‘Heal Country,’ our Cockatoo group at Clare Court spent the week immersed Place – creating watercolour artworks to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas on how we can care for and heal Country. These artworks have been displayed in the room as a reminder to influence educator practice and implement the children’s ideas.
Inspired by ‘Care for Country’ by Gubbi Gubbi artist, Maggie-Jean Douglas, children created watercolour paintings whilst situated in Place. This opened discussions on how we can support and ‘heal Country.
Bunji the Eagle
Children and educators at Carlton North created Bunjil the Eagle from natural resources they found on Country and sang a song about the Wurundjeri Creation Story. Families also joined children and educators via Zoom for morning tea, to recognise NAIDOC week while raising money for VACCA. Children created special bags containing biscuits and muffins, prepared by the children today using Lemon Myrtle and wattle seeds.
Embedding Indigenous Perspectives
At Carlton Learning Precinct, we worked on embedding Indigenous perspectives. Children connected to Country and place through painting, discovering natural loose parts, and exploring the meaning of symbols.
We connect to Country in the bush classroom in the grounds of Carlton Primary School where children explored what they saw, heard, and felt. We continue to acknowledge Country together and thank the Wurundjeri people for the land on which we play and learn.
Painting in the program explored colours which connect to Country using wattle as a provocation to explore ideas. Children used playdough to discover ways of communicating through symbols. In our 0-3 room, they explored the NAIDOC Week poster, as well as the Aboriginal flag, to create their own works of art.
“This is the land, Aboriginal people protect the land, I say thank you land, I love land”.
Charlotte, 4 years old – The Harbour
Children and educators at Broadmeadows Valley researched prominent Indigenous people. We talked politics with Senator Lidia Thorpe, listened to music by Jessica Mauboy, and created beautiful artworks inspired by Indigenous painter, Albert Namatjira.
At The Harbour, we explored Biik-up (below Country), and thought about the six layers of Country. Children answered, ‘who lives below Country?’ We went out On Country to respond to the stories of Elders, which we listen to every Friday afternoon. Children are reimagining a dialogic Acknowledgement of Country – every day it changes and becomes more heartfelt as they greet Country and thank their Elders by name. These experiences won’t end with NAIDOC Week, but are designed to grow with our deepening sense of connection and understanding.