readilearn: NAIDOC Week Celebrations 2018—Because of Her, We Can

  • Published on June 29, 2018

NAIDOC Week celebrations 2018 - Because of Her, We Can

In Australia, NAIDOC Week is celebrated around the country each July. The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. The theme of this year’s celebration, which runs from 8 to 15 July, is Because of Her, We Can!

The purpose of the week is to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Islander Peoples and acknowledge their contributions to our country. This year’s theme recognises that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels”, roles that have often gone unrecognised.

2018-NAIDOC Week poster: Because of Her, We Can

The 2018 poster, a painting by Bigambul woman, Cheryl Moggs, from Goondiwindi, portrays the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. You can read, in Cheryl’s own words, the inspiration behind her artwork here.

While most Australian school children are enjoying their mid-year break during NAIDOC Week, many teachers will be looking for ways to share the celebrations with their students when school resumes.

Any time is a good time to incorporate learning about Indigenous cultures and histories. In fact, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of the cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum.  Although I provide links to resources and suggestions that Australian teachers can use with their classes when celebrating NAIDOC Week, I’m certain many of the resources will be of interest to others around the world when teaching about diverse cultures and histories.

The NAIDOC website has suggestions to get you started, and you can download a free copy of the 2018 NAIDOC Week poster from the website too. You can also check out their calendar for events near you. Refer to News for stories of women to celebrate.

In the following video, Uncle Barry Watson, the Elder in Residence with Communities for Children in Logan City in south-east Queensland, explains the significance of NAIDOC Week and its importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia. While the video was made for NAIDOC Week 2017, the information that Uncle Barry shares is still current as he discusses the importance to Aboriginal and Islander people of sharing their culture, heritage and song, dance and music with the wider community.

Last year I shared some suggestions of other websites and picture books to assist you in your celebration of NAIDOC Week. You can refer to that post here, and also download a free printable list of some Indigenous Australian picture books and resources here.

Indigenous Australian picture books and resources - a free printable list to download

Rather than repeat that information in this post, I’ll add to it.

Television programs

Last year, I told you about Little J and Big Cuz, an animated series for early years children (K – 2) which launched on NITV in late April. This year, I can tell you that the series was nominated for a 2018 Logie Award in the ‘Most Outstanding Children’s Program’ category. (The Logies are Australian Television Awards with winners announced in a couple of days on 1 July. Fingers crossed.) Update: The series won the Logie for ‘Most outstanding children’s program’. Read about it here.

Little J and Big Cuz is just one of the programs on offer from Jarjums, the NITV (National Indigenous Television) programming dedicated to children and providing fun and educational Indigenous and First Nations content from Australia and around the world.

Support for teachers

Stronger Smarter Jarjums is a program that assists early childhood educators in providing the best learning opportunities for children prior to school and in the transitions between home, early childhood programs and school. They have a vision of “Stronger Smarter communities enabling all people to honour and affirm positive identities and cultures, whilst thriving in contemporary societies”. Check out their brochure here. Perhaps there is a program on offer near you. (Note: Jarjums is an aboriginal word for children.)


I recently added two new books from a series published by Allen and Unwin to my collection.

Indigenous picture books for kids by Ros Moriarty

The books are written by Ros Moriarty and illustrated by Balarinji, Australia’s leading Indigenous design studio. Ros Moriarty is the author of Listening to Country, a memoir, and other children’s books, and founder of the Indi Kindi early learning program which creates a range of reading and counting materials for use by very young bush children, their parents/relatives and teaching professionals.

Remember to check out Magabala Books if you are looking to purchase books by Indigenous authors and illustrators. Their website also includes classroom resources that support many of their publications.

Celebrations of Indigenous education in the news:
Science award

In December last year, a remote Aboriginal independent school (CAPS) in Coolgardie WA won a science award with bush medicine.

According to the article in School News,

“Among their achievements are eight place awards at the 2017 STAWA Science Talent Search Awards, State Level; and at the 2016 STAWA Science Talent Search, they took first place for ‘scientific investigation’.

The school was named Secondary School of the Year by The WA Science Teachers’ Association. The competition, now in its 59th year, had never been awarded to a school outside Perth before CAPS took gold.”

You can read additional information about the award in this article from ABC News.

Empowering students

This recent article in  ABC Education discusses an educational initiative in Victoria that empowers and engages Aboriginal students by acknowledging their culture. With one of the ACARA cross-curriculum priorities being to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, this innovative initiative is leading the way.

Additional resources

In last year’s post, I told you about the website Creative Spirits and its wealth of information about Australian Indigenous culture. It includes many free resources for teachers and students and has a bundle of NAIDOC Week resources available for a small cost. Since then, the website’s curator Jens Korff, an Australian-born German has added a list of more than thirty apps to “help you experience culture, explore stories or learn an Aboriginal language”.

Involve your community

It is beneficial to all parties to involve your local Indigenous community in your school and classroom celebrations. Your local community will be able to provide a richness of support and information about their history and culture. One way of involving them is through the Indigenous Language Song Competition. Suggestions of ways to connect with your local community are included on the site. The competition is open until the end of August, so there is plenty of time to be involved.

How will you celebrate NAIDOC Week this year?

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    When we visited New Zealand in 2016, there was a lot of information and celebration of Maori culture and heritage. VEry interesting.

    I am yet to visit New Zealand, even though it’s our closest neighbour. I do believe they do more to recognise their indigenous culture than many others.

    What a great thing to celebrate the Indigenous Peoples. I’m glad to see my own country recognizing the Indigenous People here too. 🙂

    Thank you, Debby. I am pleased to see that your country is doing similar. It is important to recognise the contribution of all peoples to our diverse and wonderful world.

    A similar movement is taking place in the US to honor and recognize what has been called “the silent voices” of Native Americans. Literary art plays a vital role in giving voice to the voiceless. Your examples, and lessons show how easy it truly is to incorporate native culture, wisdom and education in the classroom. That’s incredible to see science recognition for Aboriginal medicine, too!

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Charli. It is great that moves are being made to recognise, respect and honour our Indigenous Peoples. There is still much to be done but I believe we are moving in the right direction.

    Wow what a most informative post, thanks Norah! I love that you embrace our Traditional Landowners and their culture, we are very blessed to live beside this rich ancient culture.

    As a keen view of NITV I have caught Little J and Big Cuz, it is really fabulous .. we can learn so much. I currently volunteer writing up elders life stories, another blessing to join such resilient people who have been subjected to so much harm. Let’s get involved in the celebrations and education to know more about our sacred country!

    Now it’s my turn to say, ‘Wow’, Kate. How wonderful that you volunteer writing elders’ life stories for them, and us. It is so important to capture the stories before they are lost. I am always impressed at the way the Indigenous Peoples have handed down their histories and culture through the oral tradition. Of course, it is becoming much more difficult now that their languages are lost and many are living apart from their communities. There is much to be caught up on. Little J and Big Cuz and other NITV programs help, as does the wonderful work that you are engaged in.

    lol I am the truely privileged one who is blessed to share time with them, it is so wonderful, what a joy!

    I love your attitude and both admire and appreciate what you’re doing.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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