The annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples began for Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) at the Aboriginal Health Hub in Mount Druitt today.
Elders, community members and staff formally kicked off NAIDOC Week with a welcome to country, flag raising and smoking ceremony.
WSLHD Aboriginal health strategy director Braiden Abala said this year’s theme Always Was, Always Will Be recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people belong to the world’s oldest living culture. This is a week to celebrate that culture in all its diversity,” Braiden said.
WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy said NAIDOC Week “acknowledges that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact but that our history dates back thousands of years.”
While physical gatherings to celebrate NAIDOC week are being limited due to COVID-19, Graeme encouraged staff to participate by visiting the NAIDOC website to educate themselves, taking time to get to know their Aboriginal colleagues, and dropping into the Aboriginal Health Hub to speak with the staff working there.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, and dates back to the 1920s when Aboriginal rights groups boycotted Australia Day and fought for a day to recognise Aboriginal people.
Over the past century it has evolved to also recognise Torres Strait Islander peoples and become an entire week of cultural acknowledgement and celebration.
WSLHD is committed to increasing Aboriginal workforce representation to 2.5 per cent.
Over the past 12 months, the district has recruited an Aboriginal Mental Health clinical lead John Fetuani, an Aboriginal Health Service management intern, eight Aboriginal health cadets, and 40 Aboriginal people to support our hospital screening stations. Recruitment is also underway for two Aboriginal Population Health Training Initiative trainees.
The Aboriginal Health Hub has expanded to provide services in the areas of palliative care, chronic care management, gambling, domestic violence and sexual abuse, and this year also unveiled a permanent tribute to the Stolen Generations.