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Celebrating NAIDOC Week

As celebrations for NAIDOC Week are about to commence, the Institute’s Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns invites readers to reflect on the challenging theme for 2009: “Honouring Our Elders, Nurturing Our Youth”.

NAIDOC Week celebrations will be held across Australia from July 5-12 to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.

Artwork above by Luke Mallie, winning artist of the 2009 National NAIDOC Week Poster Competition. Luke’s artwork, created from acrylic, water colour and ink on paper, is titled "Carrying On Our Culture" and was judged the winner by the National NAIDOC Committee from a record 140 entries.

NATSICC, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council has produced liturgy resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, entitled "Spirit of Our Ancestors". Visit the NATSICC website.

What insights into Aboriginal people, culture and understandings do the following stories offer?

Anangu Bibi Birthing Programmme: What challenges are identified by Sister Anne Foale RSM in the video clip of the Anangu Bibi Birthing Programme? How does this programme “nurture the youth”?

In the article “Witnessing bearers of Christian hope”, Sister Celestine Pooley RSM (North Sydney) reported on a recent gathering of sisters, Indigenous people from the NSW north coast, colleagues and students. Celestine states that it was “an unforgettable journey through experiences of enormous pride, of grief and pain, of amazing resilience and hope”.

What was your response to Celestine’s reflection? If your answer is, “I haven’t had the opportunity to read it”, the committee strongly encourages you to make the opportunity and time to read the article.

Read about:
“…an unforgettable journey through experiences of enormous pride, of grief and pain, of amazing resilience and hope”.

“…the feeling of being ‘a privileged audience to whom these three Aboriginal people had entrusted their sacred story that day. I asked myself, ‘What is our responsibility in receiving it?’ The story seemed to demand an active response.”

“…the positive step and of Christian faith… Mavis had spoken at times of the strength she had found in her Christian faith. In the story we had had unfolded to us it struck me that here today we had witnessed three people who were truly bearers of Christian hope.”

Read about two projects which have received support from Mercy Works Inc.
Yarnup aims to encourage connections between young Australians and Indigenous people, and in so doing, develop a greater understanding of Aboriginal history and culture.

Tjanpi Aboriginal Baskets is an innovative arts employment programme of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjanjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council that is empowering Indigenous women in remote Australian communities.

From The Southern Cross newspaper: "Frontline view of outback"
Little Sisters of Jesus, Sister Magal and Sister Claire, live in Yuendumu, 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. They are greatly concerned by the increasing despair of young Aboriginal people, with rising suicides robbing communities of their lifeblood. In the article, "Frontline view of outback" from the Archdiocese of Adelaide newspaper, The Southern Cross, the sisters share their insights, questions and challenges. Of particular note are these two comments:
“To deny human rights to people is against any Christian belief”
“Maybe in a few years time we’ll need another apology for what they are doing to Aboriginal people now.”

From: Institute Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns (Sisters Rose Glennen, Anne McGuire and Daphne McKeough). The Committee warmly invites your response to the article or the issue.
Email: indigenous.concerns@mercy.org.au

Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator
Email: Institute.Justice@mercy.org.au