Celebration of culture and community for NAIDOC Week

By Debra Vermeer, 3 July 2018
Bernard Hoffman, Linda Davis and Linda McDonald from CatholicCare Diocese of Parramatta’s Aboriginal Catholic Services at Emerton during 2017 NAIDOC Week celebrations. Image: CCSS.


Holy Family Parish, Emerton will be host to a fun-filled celebration of culture and community on Monday, July 9 when the annual NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day gets underway.

Linda McDonald, who is part of CatholicCare Diocese of Parramatta’s Aboriginal Catholic Services says this is the fourth year the Family Fun Day has taken place and organisers say it gets bigger and better every year.

“This event has grown every year,” Linda says. “Everyone’s welcome, not just the Aboriginal community, and everyone comes. It’s great.

“This year we’ll have slides and kids’ rides, fairy floss, live entertainment, and native animal interactions for the kids.

“There is also a big free sausage sizzle, morning and afternoon tea, as well as stalls from a range of different community groups and services.”

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Linda says this year’s celebration will focus on the theme for NAIDOC Week 2018 – ‘Because of Her We Can’, highlighting the important role of women in Aboriginal communities.

“This year we’ll be celebrating all the women who work behind the scenes in communities,” she says.

“I think of women like Mum Shirl who did so much to start up services or community groups for Aboriginal people. We honour all the women who’ve gone before us and all the women who are playing important roles in communities today.”

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The NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day is a part of the outreach of the Holy Family Centre, a hub for Aboriginal services and support, which is situated on the grounds of Holy Family Parish and run by CatholicCare Parramatta’s Aboriginal Catholic Services (ACS).

The Emerton, Mt Druitt and greater Blacktown area has the largest urban concentration of Indigenous people in Australia.

Located at 252-254 Luxford Road (enter via Emert Parade), ACS is a drop-in centre conceived by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people in Emerton.

A range of support is available at the centre including help with domestic violence, health clinics, working with people in prisons, mentor early release ex-prisoners and people on probation and parole.

Many of CatholicCare counselling services – individual, family, financial, problem gambling – are also offered in the Emerton centre.

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Activity Groups include, Cooking with Culture, Addiction and Wellbeing group, a  Young Mums’ group and Arts and Craft.

The centre also runs the HIPPY Home Interaction Program for parents with children aged 4-5, which Linda, who is an Aboriginal woman of the Gundagarra people of the Yuin Nation, coordinates.

“The Centre is a safe haven for Aboriginal people to come to. There is an Aboriginal worker there and they feel comfortable going there to talk to people or to get help,” she says.

“We have some elders here too, and that’s a really important link with community.”

Linda says she is delighted with the ‘Because of Her We Can’ theme for NAIDOC Week this year.

“There are so many strong Aboriginal women who are the backbones of their community,” she says.

“So it’s great to be able to celebrate them.”

Linda says the Family Fun Day is a celebration of Indigenous culture but attracts people from all different cultural backgrounds.

“We have local Muslims come and people of other ethnic backgrounds. It’s really good that way.

“It’s just a good, fun, family-centred celebration of culture and community and we hope everyone comes and has a great time.”

The NAIDOC Week Family Fun Day runs from 10am-3pm.

For more information, please visit CatholicCare Parramatta’s Aboriginal Catholic Services (ACS).

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