The Aboriginal Flag.

NAIDOC Week, which runs from the first Sunday of every July, celebrates and recognises the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC 2023’s theme is ‘For Our Elders’ which celebrates the significant role Elders have, and continue to, play in First Nations communities and families as leaders, teachers and nurturers. 

Below, Council has highlighted some initiatives undertaken by councils around the country for NAIDOC Week 2023. 

Council recognises that, although a terrific show of solidarity, First Nations communities require local governments to show up for them everyday, not just a week in July every year. 

Hobsons Bay City Council

Hobsons Bay City Council celebrated its relationships with First Nations communities near and far for NAIDOC Week 2023 with a range of events which began with a flag raising ceremony at the Hobsons Bay Civic Centre in Altona on Tuesday 4 July.

5 July’s event at Newport Community Hub celebrated 2023’s theme of ‘For Our Elders’ and included a performance by the Yarrabah Cultural Dancers.

Council has a valued sister city relationship with the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council in north Queensland. Yarrabah has played an important role in the establishment of 2023’s Voice to Parliament referendum. 

The Yarrabah Affirmation in April 2022 reaffirmed First Nations delegates’ commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and called on the next Federal Government to hold a referendum within two years.

Hobsons Bay City Council also voted at its meeting on 20 June 2023 to support the yes vote, and to promote information and resources to help the community become informed about the Voice.

Hobsons Bay City Council Mayor, Tony Briffa, said this is a week to celebrate the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to learn more about First Nations communities and culture.

“Whenever we have an opportunity to connect with our sister city in Yarrabah it is always special, and having them here to help us celebrate NAIDOC Week is a great honour,” Mr Briffa said. 

“This year’s NAIDOC Week is particularly important given the opportunity we will soon have as a country to significantly advance reconciliation through the Voice to Parliament referendum.

“I am proud that Council has voted to support the yes vote and I look forward to Council helping promote discussion about the Voice to Parliament referendum so our residents can cast an informed vote later this year.”

City of Greater Geelong

For NAIDOC Week 2023 Greater Geelong Mayor, Trent Sullivan, welcomed the opportunity to join young people from the region’s CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community, as they learnt about Australia’s First Nations culture at the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

The City of Greater Geelong joined forces with local community-based organisations, including Cultura, to introduce members of the CALD community to a native garden, where they had the opportunity to learn about traditional medicines and bush tucker.

The native garden experience was accompanied by an opportunity for the young visitors to try their hand at throwing a boomerang, feed native Australian animals, enjoy a didgeridoo performance, and take in a presentation on the use of traditional tools.

The activities were accompanied by a morning tea consisting of First Nations treats including myrtle-seed scones with Kakadu plum jam.

“NAIDOC Week is a significant week on our community’s calendar, providing a time of recognition and celebration of our First Nations people,” Mayor Sullivan said.

“There is much to be gained by connecting our newly arrived families to our Indigenous people and practices, along with helping others from different parts of the globe to understand and appreciate the oldest continuing living culture in the world.”

The visit was made possible in collaboration with bi-lingual workers from Cultura who were present to assist the Karen, Karenni, Afghan and Ukrainian visitors to understand more about Australia’s first people.

Cr Jim Mason applauded the initiative and said the event was a great way to encourage community connection, along with educating new community members about important support services on offer. 

“These types of events are ideal for assisting new families in the region with a view to strengthening networks, as the families in attendance were provided with information about the services and supports they can access through the City of Greater Geelong,” Cr Mason said.

“In addition, the fun and interactive activities were a highlight and provided an ideal way to introduce these families, and the children in particular, to Australia’s rich First Nations heritage.

“Hopefully this initial connection is just a starting point on a number of levels.”

City of Whittlesea 

The City of Whittlesea celebrated the history, culture and achievements of First Nations peoples at a morning tea event at the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre on 3 July. 

Federal Member for McEwan, Rob Mitchell, and State Member for Mill Park, Lily D’Ambrosio, were both in attendance. 

City of Whittlesea Chair Administrator, Lydia Wilson said Council was proud to support First Nations communities within the municipality by holding and supporting a number of events throughout the week. 

“These events will help our residents increase their knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customs, protocols and traditions,” Ms Wilson said. 

Attendees were also provided with updates on some of Council’s major projects supporting First Nations people, including an Aboriginal Gathering Place at Quarry Hills and developing a new Reconciliation Action Plan. 

Yarra City Council 

Over the last year, Yarra City Council has contributed over $171,000 in funding towards local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects as part of its community grants program. 

The funding has supported a diverse breadth of community-led initiatives spanning social equity and health projects, arts and cultural activities, social enterprises and kids and family programs.  

Over $33,000 has been allocated over three years to Beyond the Bars – a live prison radio program presented by Fitzroy-based community radio station 3CR, which gives voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates in Victorian prisons.  

Broadcast each year during NAIDOC Week, the program features songs, stories and poems from the inmates. Participants attend workshops in the lead up to the broadcast to build their skills and confidence to prepare them for the broadcast. 

Following the live program, 3CR publishes the broadcast online, produces a CD of highlights and holds a free, public launch event in Yarra to celebrate the project with live music and speakers. 

Other funded projects include the Young Aunties Haus creative mentoring and development space, Cohealth’s health and wellbeing project Billabong BBQ and The Colour And Sound Of My Totem kids’ workshops.  

Yarra City Council says that it deeply values the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made, and continue to make, to the area.


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