It was a moving and heartfelt NAIDOC Week celebration at Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) headquarters when Jarara Indigenous Education Unit Specialist Teacher and proud woman of Kamilaroi descent Julie Waddell shared the message from this year’s NAIDOC Week: Voice, Treaty, Truth.
CEDP’s celebrations began with a cleansing smoking ceremony. There was an Acknowledgement of Country followed by traditional Aboriginal dancing of dreaming stories before Julie spoke about the history of NAIDOC Week and the reason for the focus on this year’s theme: Voice, Treaty, Truth.
“NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” Julie said.
“This year’s theme of Voice, Treaty, Truth were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nation Australians.
“This year’s theme has reminded me of my own journey and how I came to be where I am today both personally and professionally searching for my own voice and truth.”
Julie was the youngest of 11 children and lived the first seven years of her life on Gadigal land at an army base at Cape Banks-La Perouse. Her father was a career soldier who fought in WW2, Korea and trained troops being deployed to Vietnam.
She spoke about her fond memories of wandering the bushland with her mum and grandfather and how she cherished these walks and the knowledge she gained.
She said she always remembers a saying by her dear friend Uncle Greg Simms said to her. “Julie being Aboriginal is like a cup of coffee. It starts off black and you add a little milk and a little more but at the end of the day it’s still a cup of coffee. He said you need to empower those you teach because we need to sustain our culture and we can only do that when we give our youth their voice and help them feel that connection to their country and spirit.’’
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP).