Sharing stories of First Nations culture to celebrate NAIDOC Week

01 Jul 2023

City of Newcastle has kicked off its NAIDOC Week celebrations with the launch of a new monthly storytime session designed to share First Nations culture with the next generation.

Uncle Amos Simon from Muurrung Marai facilitated the first Sharing Culture Storytime event at Wallsend Library today, connecting his captivated young audience with the Awabakal and Gathung language and culture through songs, dance, yadaki (didgeridoo) and puppets. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle is proud to support city-wide NAIDOC Week celebrations, reinforcing our strong support for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament through the upcoming constitutional referendum.

"Newcastle has a long and rich history of standing side-by-side with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to enact positive change, having established the Guaraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee more than two decades ago, while also being the first city to raise the Aboriginal Flag over a civic building under the leadership of former Lord Mayor Joy Cummings," Cr Nelmes said.

"Today, we are proud to be the first local council in Greater Newcastle to formally endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the 'Yes' campaign for constitutional recognition, reflecting the views of our progressive and inclusive community by supporting annual NAIDOC Week celebrations throughout the city."

Councillor Deahnna Richardson, a proud Wiradjuri woman, said the Sharing Culture Storytime session is among a number of events being held in Newcastle as part of national NAIDOC Week celebrations, which will run from 2 - 9 July. 

"This year's NAIDOC Week theme, 'For Our Elders', recognises the key role Elders have played, and continue to play, as the cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors and leaders of our mob," Cr Richardson said. 

"NAIDOC Week provides an opportunity for our community to acknowledge that the story of Australia began far before European settlement, while recognising that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for our land for over 65,000 years." 

City of Newcastle will support Awabakal Corporation in its peak NAIDOC Week event on Monday 3 July, which will begin with a flag raising in Civic Park at 9am followed by a march to Foreshore Park. Family friendly celebrations featuring stalls, rides, dancing and song will run from 10am to 2pm, giving the community a chance to come together to celebrate First Nations culture, while City of Newcastle will proudly host the Elders Tent. 

Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee Member Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said City of Newcastle facilities will celebrate our Indigenous culture through a range of exhibitions and activities. 

"NAIDOC Week provides an important opportunity for our community to celebrate the stories and rich history of the oldest continuous living culture on Earth," Cr Winney-Baartz said. 

"I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free events on offer throughout the city to celebrate our Indigenous culture this NAIDOC Week." 

Newcastle Libraries will continue their activities with special NAIDOC Week Storytime sessions at the Wallsend and City library branches on 6 and 7 July respectively. Storytime will be facilitated by Indigenous health practitioner Sarah Corrigan from Rainbow Crow Cultural Collective, who will also introduce families to the Wayapa program, which is based on ancient Indigenous knowledge about living in harmony with the environment and connection with the world’s oldest living continuous culture. 

The Lovett Gallery at Newcastle City Library will host the free Koori Knockout: 50 Years travelling exhibition from the State Library of NSW, which will be open to the public from 6 July to 21 October. 

The photographic exhibition celebrates the first 50 years of the rugby league carnival, which began in Sydney with just seven men’s teams and has gone on to become the biggest rugby league knockout carnival in the world. The exhibition includes images of Newcastle All Blacks teams, who were crowned winners of the Koori Knockout in 1987, 2017, 2018 and 2022. 

Newcastle Museum is celebrating the talent and creativity of Newcastle's diverse First Nations people through its exhibition entitled FIRST, which showcases the work of 16 Indigenous creatives who have a link to Newcastle and the Hunter. 

Whilst at the Museum, visitors can also check out Cultural Resurgence, an exhibition featuring works developed by more than 600 school students, community groups and organisations participating in cultural enrichment programs delivered by Speaking in Colour. 

Newcastle Art Gallery will also celebrate NAIDOC Week at Hamilton's James Street Plaza with an outdoor projection of the video work Dead Tongue (2015) by leading First Nations artist Dr Christian Thompson AO. 

The work, which comprises a moving portrait of the artist along with a stirring soundtrack of the artist singing in Bidjara language, will be on display from 3 July until the end of August. The project will culminate on Saturday 26 August in an evening of First Nations performance and music in collaboration with local artist Wanjun Carpenter. The project is presented by Newcastle Art Gallery with the support of Art Thinking, Hamilton Business Association, and the NSW Government through Create NSW. 

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia annually in the first week of July to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.