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Recognising NAIDOC Week 2020

November 08, 2020

We’re paying tribute to the annual commemoration of NAIDOC Week, which seeks to recognise and embrace our First Nations’ communities

NAIDOC, the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, have played a vital role in organising national events since 1975 but under the dark cloud of COVID-19 this year events were restrained.

The 2020 NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ encourages all Australians to unite and support the history, accomplishments and culture of our First Nations people who have been here for over 65,000 years and span thousands of generations.

Two of our staff spoke about what NAIDOC Week means to them.

Recognising the past, present and future

“NAIDOC week to me is an important time to acknowledge and celebrate the first architects, engineers, explorers and caretakers of this country,” says Hydraulics Engineer Erika Voges.

Erika feels privileged to have contributed to the Bilya Koort Boodja, Centre for Nyoongar Culture and Environmental Knowledge by providing hydraulic services to this project in Northam, Western Australia.

“To play a role in a project like this is an honour—it’s an important regional tourism attraction that is helping the community and visitors to learn and understand the rich history and presence of the Nyoongar Ballardong region. This centre is a place for education, enjoyment and reflection that sits along the beautiful Avon River,” Erika says.

Erika believes the most satisfying part of her job is giving back to the community in project work. She sees NAIDOC Week as an opportunity for everyone to recognise and understand the First Nations people as they are now, and their histories. “It’s extremely fulfilling to work with communities within my home state, to recognise the past, present and future to help support development. NAIDOC Week is not a one-time event—we should recognise our First Nations people and our projects should always inherently consider the first caretakers of this land. NAIDOC Week aids the continual education of our country’s past,” Erika says.

Celebrating culture

Many of our employees work directly with First Nations communities to identify the best solutions for locals while preserving the environment. Our Senior Environmental Botanist Daniel Roocke sees NAIDOC Week as a time to celebrate the culture of First Nations people.

“NAIDOC Week is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the significant and unique contributions of our First Nations people and their culture in creating Australia’s identity,” Daniel says.

As a botanist Daniel’s work involves flora surveying, often in remote areas where First Nations people live. He wants to ensure vulnerable ecosystems are protected. “My work in environmental surveys are critical in remote locations such as Lake Mackay and the Great Sandy Desert, where there have been relatively few studies previously conducted, and therefore, a scarcity of current knowledge. The more information that can be obtained and provided, the better the decision-making processes and management of these areas will be,” Daniel says.

Daniel is delighted to be in a team who is creating recognition for regional communities and continued educational history of our First Nation Australians for future generations.

“I appreciate the continual opportunities to learn, be challenged, contribute to goals and work within a harmonious and motivated team. The field surveys I do are unique and memorable experiences, and to interact with Elders of these communities is one of the many highlights,” Daniel said.

To find out how you can participate and join us in honouring NAIDOC week, please visit NAIDOC’s website.

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