Australia is home to the richest and oldest living culture on the planet and, in NAIDOC Week 2023, we’re celebrating that culture through the theme of ‘for our Elders’.
“Across every generation, our Elders have played, and continue to play, an important role and hold a prominent place in our communities and families,” NAIDOC has said.
“The struggles of our Elders help to move us forward today. The equality we continue to fight for is found in their fight. Their tenacity and strength has carried the survival of our people”.
The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee have been organising celebrations of Indigenous culture in Australia since the 1960s. Originating in the Aboriginal Rights Movement of that era, the group lends its name to the week itself.
Each year, the theme given to the week is a guide for how to celebrate, show solidarity, and support the Indigenous community. Over the past 12 months, Australia has lost a number of hugely significant Indigenous cultural leaders, including Uncle Jack Charles and Archie Roach.
Their deaths were a poignant reminder of the importance of Elders like themselves in offering guidance to the community and to the country at large.
NAIDOC Week runs from Sunday, 2 July, until Sunday 9 July. Over those seven days, there are hundreds of events up and down the country, from gallery shows, to tours, to performances. But if you want to start your solidarity early, or continue those conversations long afterwards, here are the best ways you can do that.
If you’re looking for a new book to tuck into during the cold winter months, there are tonnes of Indigenous page-turners out there you should absolutely add to your list.
Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe
If you’ve not read Dark Emu by now, what are you waiting for? Drawing on original historical accounts from early European explorers, Pascoe tackles the myth that Indigenous people were simple hunter-gatherers by detailing how they built extensive agricultural constructions, farmed the land, and lived in established homes. Dark Emu puts truth to the lie that Australia was founded upon and is a must-read for everyone.
Welcome To Country, Marcia Langton
Our country’s pre-eminent Indigenous scholar, Langton has put together the first-ever Indigenous travel guide to Australia. Covering every state and territory, Langton walks you through the etiquette of being on country and where and when to experience some of the most breath-taking Indigenous experiences Australia has to offer.
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, Anita Heiss
The Indigenous entry in the Growing Up… series, award-winning author Anita Hess has compiled a selection of personal experiences from a range of diverse Indigenous voices. From the high-profile to the up-and-coming, the book contains stories from childhood, family, and country to give a glimpse into what it means to be Indigenous in Australia today.
Talking To My Country, Stan Grant
ABC news presenter and commentator Stan Grant’s Guardian essay in 2015 went viral in response to the booing of Adam Goodes. This book is his expansion of those ideas, talking to all Aussies about what it means to be Australian. Grant discusses identity, history, and society in an honest and direct way that motivates us to do better, be better, and create a country that we’re all proud to be a part of. His recent departure from the ABC makes this read even more significant.
Terra nullius, Claire G. Coleman
Debut novel by breakout author Claire G. Coleman takes the Indigenous experience and reframes it through the lens of science fiction. It’s a great book for all fans of the genre as well as anyone interested in the weird, disturbing capacity of literature. It uses the notion of invasion to speak candidly about the experiences of systemic oppression and colonisation. This one’s another must-read.
Supporting local Indigenous businesses is one of the best ways you can help the next generation of Elders by ensuring Indigenous entrepreneurs are successful. Here’s where to buy.
This Victorian, Aboriginal-owned and led social enterprise creates merchandise with meaning. Their strong branding, defiant slogans, and bare-faced truth-telling are designed to spark conversation.
Ginny, a proud Gomaroi Gamilaraay woman from Brisbane, started painting jackets to capture Indigenous knowledge, culture, and politics. She now sells these hand-painted, limited items with messages of love, respect, and protection which you can pick up at her online store.
Sustainable, eco-friendly cleaning products are all the rage at the minute. If you’re done filling your home with chemicals of mysterious origin and purpose, check out Nood for cleaning sprays, soaps, and even dishwashing supplies made with native Australian botanicals.
If you’re on the Dry July wagon, or simply want to sip on something delicious without having to make a fuss about not drinking, get around Sobah. Brewed in Brisbane, the team were the first to create non-alcoholic craft beers in Australia that use native, bush tucker ingredients.
This collaboration of Indigenous visual artists creates amazing, colourful designs for your home. Get a statement piece print, plaque, or painting or simply bathe your home in the beautiful scent of native flowers and plants with their bespoke candles.
There’s a lot to know when it comes to Indigenous culture and history. You can start by learning which country you’re on and then maybe finding out some of the local language too. Check out the below for inspiration.
Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s great Australian ‘Northern’ is a tense but beautifully shot drama focusing on the story of colonial police and their clashes with the Indigenous people in Arnhem land. If you ever needed a reason to visit the NT, this is it.
My Name Is Gulpilil
A 2022 gem from the ABC, the great Australian actor David Gulpilil explores his life and story in what proved to be his last film. Diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, Gulpilil took the opportunity to discuss his extraordinary past, his incredible body of work, and his own fate and future.
If you haven’t yet seen First Australians, now’s your chance. Currently streaming on SBS, the seven-part documentary series follows the birth of modern Australia through indigenous eyes, from the arrival of the first fleet to the legal battles of Eddie Mabo.
Thin Black Line
A deeply Aussie true-crime drama, the Thin Black Line podcast explores what exactly happened to Aboriginal teenager Daniel Yock, who died in police custody. It’s presented engagingly by Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist Allan Clarke.
Black Magic Woman
A chatty, conversational-style podcast hosted by Mundanara Bayles who interviews First Nations people from across Australia and around the world. The guests are always uplifting and full of new ideas and perspectives. A great one for a lockdown walk.