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Community & Business

6 July, 2022

Celebrating NAIDOC Week in Oakey

In honour of NAIDOC Week, on Monday Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) in partnership with Goondir Health hosted an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag raising ceremony outside the Oakey Cultural Centre.

Katrina of Goondir Health opened the service and explained the significance of NAIDOC Week (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day of Observance Committee), which runs until Sunday (10th July).

“NAIDOC Week celebrates the culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Katrina said.

She said it’s great to see the increasing number of government agencies, schools, workplaces and local councils joining in on celebrations.

This year’s theme is ‘Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up’.

Katrina said this theme can be interpreted in many different forms, but for Goondir Health it means getting up every day and remembering their purpose - closing the gap between the life expectancy of her people and the non-indigenous.

“It means continuing to work no matter how hard it is,” Katrina said.

“Show them I give a damn.”

Katrina said First Nations people have a proud culture of getting up, standing up and showing up, and that everyone needs to continue doing this.

“From the frontier wars and our earliest resistance fighters, to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities fighting for change every day. 

“It is also the time to celebrate the many who have driven the lead and lead change in our communities over the generations.

“They have paved the way for us all and left huge footprints to follow, and our goal is to do them and their work justice.”

TRC Deputy Mayor Geoff McDonald and Councillors Melissa Taylor, Bill Cahill and Kerry Shine attended the ceremony.

“It’s very pleasing indeed to see some of the elders in our community here today,” Cr McDonald said.

“We’ve done an enormous amount of work over the last few years to actually make some inroads into a genuine effort to make sure we are looking after our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders right across our region. 

“I’m very proud to be wearing our official uniform which was designed by one of our painters within Council, Dean McIntosh – a proud Goomeroi man.

“Today is an important day and I reflect on these little ones putting the flags up, and I can’t help but
think that the culture that has been here for over 60,000 years and remains the oldest living culture is really up to all of us but particularly those little ones who are raising the flags.

“We have some 1700 staff and that means we have a really strong commitment to leading the way in many areas.”

Cr Bill Cahill, a First Nations man himself, shared some of his story.

“It’s rather awkward at times when you’ve got to speak up about some things in the boardroom and we’re no different. 

“We’re all the same. 

“We all contribute and add our little bit and it’s really important to speak up and continue on that journey.

“I think of many topics that have come across the table at the boardroom level and you cannot
expect people to understand unless you’re willing to share part of your life and your story.

“Some of the things that happened both to me and my mum and my brother, but I’ll tell you what - it’s worth standing up.

“Because I can’t expect my colleagues to understand some of the things that Aboriginal people experience.

“It’s not just here. 

“It’s First Nations peoples all over the world.

“It’s about humanity, it’s about being brave enough to actually expose yourself and your story because there are genuine people who do want to understand and acknowledge that.

“I’ve had to apologise for my emotions sometimes in the boardroom and my colleagues have been very gracious and said ‘no, you don’t have to apologise.’”

“Everyone of us needs to feel awkward sometimes, because you know what, our mums and dads our aunts and uncles and the older ones who have gone before us they felt really awkward and we are standing here today because of them.”

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