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Celebrating NAIDOC Week in Shoalhaven

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Aboriginal woman in black top holds flowers in front of a sign which says ‘Where Community is, Family And our Children are our Future’.
Tara Leslie, CEO of Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre 2018 NAIDOC (Photo courtesy of Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre)
16 Jul 2018

As thousands of Australians celebrated NAIDOC Week, so did the Shoalhaven region on the South Coast of New South Wales.

Hundreds of people attended the annual Shoalhaven NAIDOC Family Fun Day held at the Nowra Showgrounds.

It included information stalls, live entertainment and music, the Koori cook off, Agy the Black Cockatoo and hot, fresh food for the adults and children.

On Thursday, HMAS Albatross naval base held a NAIDOC event for the very first time.

Aboriginal men in white paint and red clothing and head bands holding branches while standing on lawn in front of grey building. Two naval officers in grey clothing watch them.
Smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross in Shoalhaven. (Photo taken with permission of HMAS Albatross and Joe Brown (dance group leader))

The service opened with a traditional smoking ceremony, and Welcome to Country from respected local Aboriginal Elder Paul McLeod. Everyone at the event walked by the fire-pit, taking an active part in the smoking ceremony.

HMAS Albatross Commodore Scott Lockey said this year’s NAIDOC theme resonated with those on base.

Because of Her, we can! is the theme for the year, it shows the importance of Indigenous women to their community and the contribution they make, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate that,’ Commodore Lockey said.

Other guest speakers included Aunty Margaret Simoes (Aboriginal Community Development Officer, Shoalhaven City Council) and Katrina Fanning (Director of Coolamon Advisors).

During the week, the Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre hosted their annual Elders NAIDOC Luncheon.

This year’s theme, ‘Because of Her, We can!’ was illustrated in an exquisitely designed mural cake.

Square cake with NAIDOC logo on white icing and the words ‘Because of her, we can on top. Around the sides are photos of women and those they love and care for.
A cake to remember ‘her’. (Photo courtesy of Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre)

Almost too good to slice, the cake reminded all in attendance that everybody has one or more women who have changed, lifted or sculpted their life.

After the lunch, the Children’s dance Group “Bimbalas” and “Djungahs” performed for the special guests.

The luncheon was not the first activity sponsored by the centre. Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre hosted the NAIDOC Deadly Dance for pre-school aged children in Nowra.

Because of this year’s theme, the children in attendance invited a special woman (mum, nan, aunty) in their lives to come along to the dance as well.

Throughout the week, Tara Leslie, CEO of Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre embodied the NAIDOC theme. Her tireless efforts made the events possible.

‘Tara is a very compassionate, loyal, strong Indigenous Woman who is willing to help anybody no matter who they are or where they come from,’ a close colleague said.

‘Tara is kind hearted, giving, generous and always open armed and full of encouraging support for our Communities in the Shoalhaven.’

This year, NAIDOC Week reminded us of the great culture, history and achievements of the women standing right next to us.

Find out more

For more information, visit the National NAIDOC Week website.

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