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Parish Life blog: NAIDOC Week is time to reflect

Fr Andrew Hamilton  |  05 July 2018

NAIDOC Week logoThe origins of NAIDOC Week came out of a Day of Mourning for the destruction and despoliation of Indigenous Australians which followed the arrival of the first fleet.

It later became also a celebration of Indigenous and Islander culture. Each year it offers a theme that points to a key part of Indigenous culture. It offers space for reflection not only by Indigenous but by all Australians.  

This year the theme for NAIDOC week is ‘Because of her, we can’. It points to the central role played by women in the nurturing of Indigenous culture and celebrates the strong women who have fought for their people’s rights.  It is timely for all Australians. Recently the #Me Too movement has drawn attention to the ways in which many women have been sexually abused by men in positions of power over them. It has called out disrespect.

We have recently become more aware, too, of the extent of domestic violence in Australia, and that it is mostly perpetrated by men against women and children.  This form of disrespect, once wreathed in silence, has been spoken of courageously and effectively. In this area, as in the #Me Too movement, we have been struck, not only by the outrageous treatment of women, but also by their strength and resilience and by the courage of those who have described their experience.

Disrespect for Indigenous women has been part of the national DNA. As part of policy for generations many women’s children were routinely taken away from them, and this remains the default response to domestic problems in Indigenous communities. Government policies and administration have consistently ignored women’s part in holding together families and communities often under great pressure.

For these reasons it is the right time to celebrate the strong women who have spoken truth to power in Australia – from Truganini to Evelyn Scott, Mum Shirl and Pat O’Shane, to name some of the best known. Often dismissed because they were female as well as Indigenous, they gave hope to others.

Violence to women is rooted in the weakness of men and not in their strength.  The Indigenous women of great strength and commitment to their people whom we meet in our work inspire us.

Visit the NAIDOC Week website for more information.



Topic tags: indigenousaustralians, healthycommunitylife, socialjustice-australia

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