“Country is a part of our identity,” Ashleigh Munro said.
The team leader of BRHS’ Aboriginal Health Unit was speaking to a gathering of local Aboriginal Elders, BRHS staff and residents of Maddocks Gardens on Tuesday to mark NAIDOC Week, 2021.
“As of recent times, we, as Aboriginal people, have sought greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage, from exploitation, desecration and destruction,” Ashleigh said. “Healing Country means embracing the cultural understanding and knowledge of First Nations people in protecting and maintaining the land for generations to come.”
NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The theme of NAIDOC Week this year is Heal Country.
As a gesture toward the theme, the NAIDOC ceremony at Maddocks Gardens included the planting of a Banksia – a tree native to this region, the traditional land of the Gunaikurnai people.
“The Aboriginal Health Unit team thought it would be appropriate to plant a tree, in running with this year’s theme but also in recognition of our new and developing team,” Ashleigh said.
Earlier, local Elder Aunty May Pearce used her Welcome to Country to urge all East Gippslanders to use NAIDOC Week as a moment to learn something new about the Gunaikurnai community.
“Walk with us,” Aunty May said. “NAIDOC Week is an invitation to come together with the local Indigenous community, and to learn about our culture, our history, and the things that are important for our future.”
Learn more about NAIDOC Week and find events and happenings near you at www.naidoc.org.au