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Reflections on the NAIDOC Week theme

Four Salvation Army employees of the Australia Territory share what NAIDOC Week means to them:

As a migrant to these lands we now call Australia, I am deeply moved by the resilience, wisdom, creativity, courage and strength of First Nations peoples. During NAIDOC Week, we focus on celebrating the ongoing contributions of God’s chosen caretakers of these beautiful countries. We are also reminded that it is only as we stand together and continue to fight for systemic change that justice and equity will truly be possible. Let’s celebrate, but let’s also commit to standing alongside our sisters and brothers and ensuring their voices are heard. –Major Sandra McLean, Faith Communities Development Secretary

Get Up! Stand Up! means justified work and effort on my part. Getting up means getting up to date with Australia’s shared history – for instance, the doctrine of Terra Nullius – that the land of Australia ‘belonged to no one’ was overturned by the High Court only 30 years ago. Getting up also requires reading the 440 words that make up the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Standing up means doing something. Getting to know local Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and their language, hearing stories and having a cuppa. Standing up means talking about our history, listening to the hopes for the future (which in part has been done for us – Uluru Statement from the Heart) and using our podiums of power for others to speak. These things, along with acknowledging personal and corporate failures, should be a natural response when we read Scripture – look after the lonely, widows, orphans, homeless and oppressed. Getting up and standing up are the right things to do, but they are also the holy things to do. – Lieutenant B.J. Baillie, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Corps, WA

Get Up! Stand Up! means getting up to speed and listening to what are the key issues for our Indigenous brethren. ‘Stand up’ is being alongside living, loving and fighting with, not for, our brethren, for practical restorative and just outcomes wherever I am and have influence. It’s important to embody and live out this theme with respect and gratitude. That is what I can be and do as a fifth-generation recent arrival. – Andrew King, Professional Supervision Practice Consultant, Doorways

The celebration of NAIDOC Week means we recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across all the lands of Australia. Recognition is the start, leading to attitudes and behaviours that ensure that our First Nations people are seen, heard, valued and understood, not only in areas of society that affect them directly but in all areas. This year’s theme – Get Up! Stand Up! – is a rallying call to do what we can to challenge systems that have, and continue to, harm people’s dignity and worth and to ensure that all people can flourish. We need to prioritise systemic change and individual commitment to change to ensure justice is experienced and our First Nations people are given the recognition and rights that they, as fellow humans, deserve. Karen Lattouf, Territorial Leadership Development Specialist, Eva Burrows College


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