Mount Druitt NAIDOC Week celebrations ‘a step towards Reconciliation’

By Mary Brazell, 13 October 2022
Aboriginal Aunties, members of Catholic Care and staff of Holy Family Parish Emerton are seen during the Catholic Care NAIDOC Week celebrations at Holy Family Parish, Emerton. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


The local Mount Druitt community have got up, stood up and showed up in support of their indigenous brothers and sisters at Catholic Care’s NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Held on the grounds of Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt, on Tuesday 27 September, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with music, rides, food and fun.

NAIDOC Week is celebrated annually in the first week of July, but Catholic Care’s celebrations were postponed due to wild weather and rising concerns around COVID.

Linda McDonald, Catholic Care’s HIPPY Coordinator and part of the organising team, said the aim of the celebrations was to have it as open and welcoming for all members of the community.

“People come from all over the community, doesn’t matter whether they are Aboriginal or not, they all come and mingle together, everyone’s on the same level. There’s a reconciliation part of that as well,” she said.

“I’m really happy that the Mt Druitt community and beyond have come to celebrate Aboriginal people and what we stand for.

“Our ancestors years ago always welcomed people, so just as they welcomed people, we do as well.”

A view of the Catholic Care NAIDOC Week celebrations at Holy Family Parish, Emerton. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Following an Acknowledgement of Country from Aunty Rhonda Randall, Blacktown City Council Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM explained his pride of the rich Indigenous history and heritage of the Council area.

“It is a great pleasure to join in today’s NAIDOC celebrations. Today is a day of joy,” he said.

“I was heartened to see in the latest Census data that the number of Blacktown City residents who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander has grown by almost 25% in just five years. These figures reflect a society where people of First Nations heritage are much more comfortable in acknowledging their ancestry, and what a wonderful thing to see in Blacktown City.

“[Blacktown] is such a diverse city [with] 188 different nationalities, but nevertheless, historically our Aboriginal people are playing a significant role.

“For thousands of years, the Darug people have called this land home, with many local Darug people continuing to live in the area today, which makes us so very proud.”

(L-R) Blacktown City Council Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM, Aunty Rhonda Randall, and Holy Family Parish Priest Fr Greg Jacobs SJ during the Catholic Care NAIDOC Week celebrations at Holy Family Parish, Emerton. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Local Indigenous musician Roz Webb, who has supported similar NAIDOC Week events across Sydney for ten years, was honoured to perform “in front of my own”.

“This is our first gig since COVID, and we wanted to keep it especially for this celebration. This is very important to us and to our own people,” she said.

Roz appreciated that various organisations had information stalls set up during the event, as there are often people in the community who don’t know where to turn to, or are embarrassed to ask questions.

Speaking on the 2022 NAIDOC Week theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’, Mayor Bleasdale said it acts as a call to action for the whole community.

“It implores us to keep rallying around our First Nations people, to continue the push for Reconciliation and justice and to fight for a change to our constitution to represent the voices of our Indigenous people,” he said.

“As the Mayor of Blacktown, I will continue to advocate for Indigenous Australians, no matter what, and I will walk alongside you in this journey in standing up and showing up to fight for the injustices and inequalities of the past.”

Members of the Western Sydney Local Health District are seen during the Catholic Care NAIDOC Week celebrations at Holy Family Parish, Emerton. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Roz stressed the importance of continuing to move forward towards Reconciliation.

“Get up – you’ve got to get moving, you can’t just sit back. If you want anything, you’ve got to get moving.

“Stand up for what you believe in, stand up for your rights and for your people.

“Show up – no use saying anything if you’re not going to show up and lead by example.”

Linda was encouraged by the Federal Government’s acknowledgement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and calls for an Indigenous voice in parliament.

“I think that for too long, we’ve been quiet. We have a lot of knowledgeable Aboriginal people out there in the wider community and we need to start supporting them.

“A lot of people who come to our centre are non-Aboriginal, and they are accepted, and they know where we [as Aboriginal people] stand. We don’t stand alone, we stand together.”


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