NAIDOC 2015: Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture

The sights, sounds and tastes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples came to life at The George Institute’s NAIDOC celebration outside the Sydney, Kent Street office. 

The celebrations were held in recognition of Australia’s unique heritage and involved a series of cultural displays including a traditional corroboree by Koomurri Dancers, a bush tucker luncheon and an art exhibition by Aboriginal artist, Chris Moore.

A crowd of nearly 100 people watched the event, with a mix of staff from The George Institute and nearby businesses. Chris Moore opened the day with a traditional acknowledgement in language, and keynote speaker Jake Byrne spoke about the history of NAIDOC and what his own Aboriginal heritage means to his identity.

“Acknowledging and celebrating Australia’s first people is, in my opinion, very important for the whole nation.

For a long time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the rough end of public opinion and government policies, and in some cases still are, but NAIDOC week is a chance to bring some balance to that and provides an opportunity for these communities to feel proud and relevant. That’s something everyone should be able to feel.” Mr Byrne said.

NAIDOC Week is held in July each year and is celebrated not just by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life. Julieann Coombes, chair of The George Institute’s NAIDOC Celebration Committee, called the event a wonderful display of Aboriginal culture and recognition.

“It’s great to see such a big turn-out, with not only our own staff in attendance but also many of the staff in our building. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a major focus area for The George Institute, so it is really encouraging to see how interested people are in our culture.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture is what makes Australia different to the rest of the world, so I always jump at the chance to share it with the rest of the community.

“The George Institute has run several successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, with the aim of closing the gap in healthcare; programs like Driving Change, Buckle-Up and the Kanyini Vascular Collaboration.”

The event closed with a raffle draw that raised over $600, with the money raised being donated to the Jarjum College in Redfern. Steve Kamper of The George Institute’s Musculoskeletal Division won the prize, an artwork painted by Aboriginal Artist Jason Russell.