The 2023 National NAIDOC Week theme is ‘For Our Elders’. Across every generation, our Elders have played, and continue to play, an important role and hold a prominent place in our communities and families. They are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones.
We pay our respects to the Elders we’ve lost and to those who continue fighting for us across all our Nations and we pay homage to them. Warra Directors Katriina and Carlyn celebrate the theme ‘For our Elders’ by nominating an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has made a difference to their lives.
Katriina Tahka – Director, Cultivate Indigenous
June 1992 was a very special time to be a law student studying in Canberra. On 3 June 1992 the High Court of Australia historically found in favour of Eddie Koiki Mabo and fellow Mer Islanders in their challenge against the offensive British assertion that Australia was ‘terra nullius’ (a land belonging to no-one).
In our Warra program the sponsors (who are usually senior people in the organisation) work on articulating their leadership legacy. There is so much that everyone could learn from Eddie Koiki Mabo. He pursued justice for more than a decade for his people with a quiet, considered, respectful manner that influenced others more than many other domineering aggressive styles would have. Eddie took on the most significant legal concept in Australian history and won. He wasn’t the richest man or the most educated, but he was a man of significant wisdom and influence, he was clear on his values and vision for his people. He knew what justice looked like and overcame every barrier in the relentless pursuit of it.
I wish Eddie had been there on the steps of the High Court of Australia on 3 June 1992 when the decision was handed down. He has changed the lives of so many people since then not only by the recognition of Native Title as a result, but also shown us what true leadership looks like.
Carlyn Waters – Director, Cultivate Indigenous
NAIDOC Week is an exciting time of the year where my voice becomes louder as I get to spend the week reflecting on my community and shining a light on amazing people and activities that we do as a proud Aboriginal person. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is For Our Elders and encourages us to acknowledge the important role Elders play in our families and our communities. My family had an amazing Elder, my Aunty Kim. She took the time to share our family’s stories with me and my kids, she shared culture, she gave advice, she listened and when she passed away, I realised that our family and community had lost more than a member of our family, we lost a connection to Country. Thank you Aunty Kim for what you did for me, my siblings, my cousins and our kids. Because of you, we are stronger as a family and as a community, ensuring our future generations know our stories.