NAIDOC 2018 Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters

Seven Sister Perform traditional dance and song for guests in DFAT atrium.
Seven Sister Perform traditional dance and song for guests. Credit: Mark Graham Media

During NAIDOC Week DFAT proudly supports Indigenous Australia to showcase their culture to the wider Australian and international community.

The highlight of DFAT’s 2018 NAIDOC week celebrations was the inclusion of the highly acclaimed exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters from the National Museum of Australia (NMA).

This Indigenous-led exhibition, exhibited at NMA between September 2017 and February 2018, is the first of its kind in its attempt to tell an Indigenous founding narrative through using Indigenous ways of passing on knowledge. This knowledge, which is preserved for future generations, is “written in the land” and is a source for learning the spiritual, ecological, cultural and ontological lessons that help new generations to understand their own existence across this vast landscape of Australia.

NMA worked hand-in-hand with senior custodians of Martu country and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Ngaanyatjarra lands of Australia’s Central and Western deserts. The groundwork for the exhibition took many years of hard work and included countless road trips, research, consultation and storytelling.

DFAT was privileged to secure some significant pieces from NMA’S major exhibition to display in the department’s Atrium for NAIDOC Week celebrations.

At the Secretary’s NAIDOC reception, celebrations were amplified further with a performance from the traditional elders and custodian of the Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters.

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.

Photos: Secretary’s NAIDOC reception

Senior Elder Ms Inawinytji Williamson sings Seven Sisters on a stage with clap sticks.
Senior Elder Ms Inawinytji Williamson sings Seven Sisters. Credit: Mark Graham Media
Tapaya Edwards performs the Wati Nguru role in a dance for the DFAT crowd.
Tapaya Edwards performs the Wati Nguru role in the story. Credit: Mark Graham Media
Seven Sister Peformers posing for photo.
Seven Sister Peformers (L-R) Mrs Alison Carol, Ms Francie Ingkatji, Ms Pantitji Lewis, Mr Tapaya Edwards and Ms Rene Kulitja. Credit: Mark Graham Media
Seven Sister Performers with A/g Secretary and Indigenous Champion Richard Maude posing for photo.
Seven Sister Performers with A/g Secretary and Indigenous Champion Richard Maude (second from left). Credit: Mark Graham Media

Last Updated: 21 December 2018
Elders Ms Yaritji Heffernan and Ms Inawinytji Williamson sing Seven Sisters on stage with clap sticks.
Elders Ms Yaritji Heffernan (left) and Ms Inawinytji Williamson sing Seven Sisters. Credit: Mark Graham Media

Cultural Appreciation Training

A key event for staff during NAIDOC Week was Cultural Appreciation Training offered by NITES (the National Indigenous Training Employment Solutions). NITES is a 21st century consultancy established by Wiradjuri/Ngunnawal men Clinton Scott-Knight and Darren Knight who are directly involved with the program delivery and development of the training. NITES’s approach aligns with the principles of the department’s Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy (IRCDS) in assisting ‘… public and private sectors to reach … targets and build cultural capability’ The IRCDS recognises that cultural competence is an essential part of DFAT’s tradecraft. Staff must be attuned to culture and nuance and our workplaces must foster a culturally safe environment in which all staff can operate effectively and to their full potential.