NAIDOC Week 2017 celebrates Indigenous languages

CatholicCare Social Services’ Jackie Bassett spoke to Ian Eggins, Manager of Supported Independent Living, as he anticipated NAIDOC Week (2-9 July).

Ian Eggins belongs to the Bundjalung and Kamilaroi people, and he grew up here in Newcastle.

Ian says he was influenced by his parents, who were very active members of the Aboriginal community.

NAIDOC Week is important to Ian and his family. “It’s a celebration of my Aboriginal culture and the long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It’s about being proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It’s also about paying respect to Aboriginal people, elders past and present.”

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is “Our Languages Matter.” For Ian, that reinforces the importance of “Aboriginal people getting back to their history, culture and identity, all of which are expressed through our languages”. There are around 120 Indigenous languages spoken in various parts of Australia.

Ian is deeply committed to promoting and preserving Aboriginal ways of understanding the land and the people who belong to it. “I sit on the boards of a variety of Aboriginal organisations, including the Biraban Land Council and Wandiyali, an Aboriginal community and children’s services organisation.”

At CatholicCare, Ian finds that his Indigenous heritage complements his work as a member of the Out of Home Care team, supporting young adolescents. “I’m able to provide a culturally sensitive service to our Indigenous children and young people within our programs.”

Ian and his family enjoy participating in the NAIDOC Week community events held locally, especially the march and celebration day, which was traditionally held at Newcastle Foreshore but will be held at Smith Park, Hamilton, on 3 July for the first time this year.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

There are many activities and events held around Newcastle, the Hunter and Manning region each year. CatholicCare will be participating in various events and encouraging those we support to attend. Some of the events we will be involved with this year include Smith Park, Hamilton on 3 July, Westlakes Toronto Foreshore on 4 July, Fotheringhams Park, Taree on 9 July and Billabong Park, Gloucester on 15 July.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

Learn more about NAIDOC Week

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Jackelyn Bassett

Jackelyn Bassett is Marketing Assistant, CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning

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