NAIDOC Week, held from 3 July to 10 July in 2022, is an annual opportunity for all Australians to join with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in celebration of the many achievements of First Nations people.
A significant week in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) calendar, NAIDOC Week can also be a time where educators and services feel a bit torn on how to appropriately join in, without being culturally insensitive, tokenistic, or placing the responsibility for planning NAIDOC Week onto the very people the week is meant to celebrate.
Central to the 2022 theme of Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! is the idea that all Australians, First Nations and otherwise, need to lobby for systemic change, and keep rallying around First Nations people, Elders and communities as they advocate for what works best for them.
“Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, Constitutional change, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, or calling out racism—we must do it together,” a NAIDOC spokesperson said.
“We need to move beyond just acknowledgement, good intentions, empty words and promises, and hollow commitments. Enough is enough,” they added.
If your service is ready to move forward we have prepared the following guide with practical tips and ideas on how you can join in.
Draw attention to the significance of NAIDOC Week by displaying the 2022 NAIDOC Week poster in the service. Talk with the children about its design, created by Ryhia Dank, a young Gudanji/Wakaja artist from the Northern Territory.
The bold black and white design of this year’s poster can also be used as a point of inspiration for children to create their own work focusing on lines, and expressing meaning with a limited colour palette.
Services can also create a “hall of fame” which features First Nations role models from the local community and further afield.
Celebrate the creative arts
There are a range of contemporary artists who are producing audio work suitable for children, as well as the more traditional visual artists.
Why not use NAIDOC Week as an opportunity to look in depth at the work of local artists and artists from further afield, or to look at the different mediums of art that First Nations people have used to express themselves, and Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!
Educators might use NAIDOC Week to look at the different colour palettes used by artists from around Australia – how are the Tiwi Island palettes different from the blues which are less commonly seen?
You could engage an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artist to produce an artwork representing the 2022 theme, or work with them to create something of significance for your service such as a mural which the children could help to bring to life.
Music is a powerful tool to help children connect to Culture. From peaceful lullabies to listen to at rest time through to familiar nursery rhymes sung in language there are a multitude of ways for children to explore and celebrate the music of First Nations people.
Inviting a First Nations community member to the service during NAIDOC Week can be a great way for children to learn about Culture, make connections to the community, and to acknowledge the significance of the occasion.
When extending an invitation, services should be mindful that NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate achievements and honour the First Nations community. Asking respected community members to do unpaid work and give their time and emotional energy for the benefit of the children, with nothing in return may be perceived poorly – a little bit like hosting a birthday party and then asking the birthday person to make the cake, entertain everyone, and clean up afterwards.
There may be groups or community members who are happy to work with your service, but be mindful in how this is approached, and don’t leave it until the last minute to arrange.
After researching sites of significance or interest to the First Nations people of your area, your service may take an excursion to engage the children and connect them to Culture.
You could host a community barbeque or luncheon, hold a flag raising ceremony, create food using bush tucker, or hold a fundraising event with the proceeds going to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander focused organisation.
Whatever you do, and however you choose to celebrate, don’t forget that NAIDOC Week and its themes are designed to create a sense of awareness and connection that lasts all year long.