Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018: "Because of her, we can"

20 July 2018

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is committed to advancing reconciliation and the interests of Australia's First Peoples. Our commitment is set out in the Reconciliation Action Plan, Indigenous Peoples Strategy and Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy. These foundational documents show all staff how they can, and should, contribute. We all have an important role to play, whether in Australia or overseas, to contribute to reconciliation and ensuring an inclusive workplace for all.

Celebrating NAIDOC Week, as well as other days and weeks of cultural significance, is a clear and tangible demonstration of our shared commitment.

DFAT's celebration of the 2018 NAIDOC Week theme "Because of Her, We Can" honoured the rich contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made and continue to make.

Elders from the Central and Western deserts share their Songlines. Photo: Mark Graham Media

The department was proud to host a mini exhibition of the National Museum of Australia's Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters as the centrepiece of this year's celebration.  The Seven Sisters songlines is one of Australia's oldest stories, and this innovative Indigenous-led exhibition provided a valuable experience for staff, guests and members of the diplomatic corps.

Travelling all the way from Australia's Central and Western deserts, women elders involved in creating the Songlines exhibition delivered a memorable and engaging performance as the centrepiece of the week. We also welcomed the very talented women Indigenous vocalists from the Mission Songs Project, an initiative to revive contemporary Australian Indigenous songs from 1900 to 1999.

Our celebration of Indigenous women also featured for the first time a speaker series that showcased the insights, skills and achievement of leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in exchanges with the public and with leaders in business, government, civil society and academia throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

The week also presented a flurry of activities for staff, including an engaging presentation by Tanya Denning-Orman, Manager of the National Indigenous TV channel, a hotly-contested quiz night and APS touch football competition and cultural appreciation training.

Video: Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this film may contain the names and images and voices of deceased people.

Last Updated: 20 July 2018

Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018 in Beijing

The Australian Embassy Beijing celebrated NAIDOC Week 2018 with the opening of Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists, an international touring exhibition produced by the National Museum of Australia, presented at the prestigious National Museum of China from 3 July to 3 September.

This unprecedented exhibition of Australian national treasures, a collection of Aboriginal bark paintings from Arnhem Land, was opened by Australia’s Ambassador to China, Jan Adams, Director of the National Museum of China, Wang Chunfa, and Director of the National Museum of Australia, Mathew Trinca. Artists Witiyana Marika and Ishmael Marika travelled to China for the event, sharing their knowledge of culture, community and a few yidaki performances with Chinese visitors and media.

The exhibition will go on to tour Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Taipei over 20 months.

Back at the Australian Embassy, Gerald Thomson, Deputy Head of Mission, hosted a NAIDOC Week 2018 staff morning tea, highlighting the importance of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are respected and recognised as part of our collective identity and nationhood. Bigambul woman, Naurelle Saunders from Home Affairs, also shared the purpose and theme of NAIDOC Week and her Indigenous culture with Embassy staff.

The event saw the unveiling of a new plaque, with text written by National Gallery of Victoria’s Indigenous Art senior curator, Judith Ryan, that introduces four paintings by the late Marra artist, Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, which were specially commissioned for the Embassy in 1992.

Artist Witiyana Marika introduces his ancestors’ bark paintings to Wang Chunfa, Director, National Museum of China. Photo: DFAT/Luke Pegrum
Gerald Thomson, Deputy Head of Mission, and Naurelle Saunders, Second Secretary, Home Affairs, with painting by Ginger Riley Munduwalawala at the Australian Embassy Beijing. Photo: DFAT/Liu Ting