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NAIDOC Celebrations

The college held special events to recognise, support and celebrate indigenous culture across seven different campuses. 

With the Our Languages Matter theme, NAIDOC 2017 emphasised and celebrated the unique and essential role that indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song. 

The first event was held at Perth campus on Tuesday 25 July. North Metropolitan TAFE Training Services General Manager Julie Zappa highlighted the college’s commitment to closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous Australians. 

“Our reconciliation journey began as we thought more deeply about how we, as a training organisation and as part of the community can do more to learn from and celebrate the rich cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”, Ms Zappa said. “By partnering with our community to develop our Reconciliation Action Plan, we hope to not only raise awareness but also to ensure our services are relevant and meaningful, as well as to engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in reaching their education and employment aspirations. “

Guests also heard from Chairperson of North Metropolitan TAFE’s Aboriginal Education Employment Training Committee Mara West, who spoke about the central role that language plays in indigenous identity. 

“You identify yourself through language and when you say which language group you belong to then people know where your country is. Traditional language is important for maintaining strong cultural connections”, Ms West said. “Where traditional languages have been taken away from communities, a sense of loss, grief and inadequacy developed. To keep communities and generations strong, traditional language being passed from one generation to another is vital.”

“From the days of European contact, it was often assumed that Aboriginal languages were of less value than English and this view became embedded into government policy, which was reflected in education and employment policies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were discouraged from speaking their languages and made to feel ashamed of using them in public.”

“I remember when I was growing up my Mother and Grandmother didn’t speak our language to me and my siblings as they were suspicious of the white people and the government, who had the power to remove their food rations and remove indigenous children from their families. My Mother wanted us to speak English so we could survive in the white man’s world. Once this intergenerational link is broken an unwritten language disappears very quickly.”

Ms West also highlighted the many current language challenges faced by indigenous communities.

“Even Aboriginal people who have been fortunate enough to retain their language, English is still a foreign language for many. If they don’t understand messages in English they are disadvantaged; many struggle to understand medical advice, court orders and other vital information, affecting their ability to access crucial government services such as justice and health.”

“Today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia are speaking out about the need to rejuvenate, protect, preserve and strengthen traditional languages, recording them and ensuring they are passed on to the next generation before it is too late.”

“Australians and the rest of the world need to know that Aboriginal Languages are still here and need to be encouraged and preserved to keep our people strong. We have a voice that makes us uniquely Australian. We have a language that goes on for thousands of years, and some are still as fluent as it was all those years ago”, Ms West concluded. 

Broadcast Television lecturer Peter Wharram took a group of students and did the coverage of the event, interviewing staff and guests.  Staff and students attending the event were treated to dance performances by Urban Indigenous Dance Group, some crocodile, emu and kangaroo tastings on the barbeque and delicious bush tucker products from Urban Indigenous. They could also get more information from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, while listening to live music by the talented indigenous singer/songwriter Lee West, who has toured nationally and internationally for the past 20 years. 

NAIDOC Dance.jpg  NAIDOC Group.jpg

North Metropolitan TAFE is committed to supporting the indigenous cause and has developed effective partnerships and programs to ensure support and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, helping them achieve their individual and collective aspirations. Some of these programs include an Aboriginal Cadetship Program in partnership with WA Police and a pre-bridging program towards university studies at Murdoch University, Curtin University, the University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University. 

The college’s 2017-2019 Reconciliation Action Plan is in its final stages of development, and will be officially launched in September 2017. For more information on North Metropolitan TAFE’s indigenous support, please contact the Koolark Centre at 9428 0340 or deadly@nmtafe.wa.edu.au
 

Page last updated August 07, 2017