Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique and timeless connection to land is the special focus and theme of this year’s National NAIDOC Week celebrations.
The theme – We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate – highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea.
The National NAIDOC Committee encourages all Australians, young and old, to embrace the 2015 National NAIDOC theme and to respect and celebrate local and national sites of significance or ‘sacred places’ and to learn of their traditional names, history and stories.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a sacred place could be a geographic feature like a river or lake, a beach, bays, inlets, hills or mountain ranges. They could also be ceremonial grounds, galleries of rock art or engravings, or places used for gathering for cultural practices.
As the oldest continuing culture on the planet, the living culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is intrinsically linked with these sacred places. Long before European arrival, these places had traditional names that reflect the timeless relationship between the people and the land. Often they are connected with Dreaming stories or tell of the meaning of an area.
National NAIDOC Committee co-chairs Anne Martin and Benjamin Mitchell said this year’s theme is an opportunity to pay our respects to country, acknowledge those who work tirelessly on preserving land, sea and culture and to celebrate our many sacred and significant places.
Benjamin said that these places have been of important significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for tens of thousands of years.
“Lots of places in your local region, your town or your city have traditional names and dreaming stories and we encourage everyone to learn more about their history, their meaning and the extraordinary relationship they have to the traditional custodians.”
Anne points out that this year’s theme was specifically chosen to also highlight and celebrate a significant anniversary of one of Australia’s most iconic sacred places – Uluru.
“2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘Handback’ of Uluru to its traditional owners on 26 October 1985 and we wanted to honour and share their story with the nation.”
Indigenous artists are encouraged to start working on entries for the National NAIDOC Poster Competition, which reflects this year’s NAIDOC theme. The winning entry attracts a $5000 cash prize and will feature on the 2015 National NAIDOC poster and be displayed across the country.
The Poster Competition closes on Friday 27 March 2015.
The National NAIDOC Committee also encourages people to acknowledge the contributions and talents of outstanding Indigenous individuals by nominating them for a National NAIDOC Award. There are ten categories to choose from, including the prestigious Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards. Recipients will be honoured during NAIDOC Week at the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony in Adelaide.
Nominations for the 2015 National NAIDOC Awards close on Friday 24 April 2015.
NAIDOC Week 2015 runs from 5 - 12 July and is an opportunity for all Australians to join together to recognise the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the valuable contributions they continue to make to this country.
For more information including entry forms and ideas on how to celebrate, visit www.naidoc.org.au