NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Local community celebrations during NAIDOC Week are encouraged and often organised by communities, government agencies, local councils, schools and workplaces. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people celebrate this annual event and use it as a platform to showcase and celebrate our culture, our history and to celebrate the achievements of our people.

NAIDOC week for 2020 has flexed and adapted to the challenges of the year, moving from early July to 8 – 13 November. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people celebrate this annual event and use it as a platform to showcase and celebrate their culture, history and achievements.

Unfortunately, we are still unable to come together and celebrate in our usual way, with most Illawarra community events moved to online facilitation. It is up to all of us to find new and creative ways to celebrate NAIDOC and this year in particular for UOW in its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan year.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff were asked to provide their personal insights into the significance and meaning of this year’s theme ‘Always was, Always Will Be’. We have aesthetically compiled these individual interpretations to commemorate and showcase our amazing and proud Aboriginal employee’s voices and ideologies (please click here).

We encourage you to seek out your faculty/ divisional Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Champions to participate and contribute in commemorating NAIDOC week 2020. RAP champions have been provided a few suggestions and links to develop and host their own activity or event for NAIDOC 2020.

Please see below answers when our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff were asked to provide their personal insights into the significance and meaning of this year’s theme ‘Always was, Always Will Be’.

Name: Adam Gowen
Mob: Wiradjuri

Always was, always will be speaks to me about our ancient wisdom, our strength in the present, and our ability to rejuvenate our cultures both now and into the future. It’s also about the continuing presence of Country who teaches and guides us all (if we listen).

Name: Vanessa Cavanagh
Mob: Bungum Bundjalung and Wonnarua

The NAIDOC theme “Always Was Always will be” reminds me that the things that have been fought for by past generations have created significant opportunities for myself and others. And that responsibility sees me continue to work towards better outcomes for our families and communities and Country, which suffers heavily at the detriment of ecological unsustainable practices.

Name: Jade Kennedy
Mob: Illawarra and South Coast Mob

Country is ever present – Regardless of the built environment, the extraction of our resources or the ways in which they try to desecrate or concrete over. Country always is and always will be. Country is not just the physical landscape but it’s also the relationships between people and the relationships between people and their place. It’s the story and the continuity of the story of a place and its peoples and its ways of being. It’s the interrelationships of all these things… this always is… and always will be…

Name: Joel Keen
Mob: Gomeroi

As the Indigenous inhabitants of this land, our collective connections to culture and country were born long before this reality; will endure this reality; and will be here after it’s gone and they mourn this reality.

Name:  Caitlin Stuart
Mob:  Gomeroi

Together we stand strong and proud on our lands, with deep respect to those who have paved the way for us to continue learning and practising our culture across the nation.

Name: Nadia Neal
Mob: Wodi Wodi

For me my hope is that the whole of Australia comes to learn this phrase and accept it as truth.

Name: Indi Buckskin-James
Mob: Narrunga, Southern Arrente and Wirangu

The theme for NAIDOC 2020 ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ for me is a statement that brings me strength and fills me with pride.  It’s a reminder to honour our fight and respect that Aboriginal culture always was and always will be the foundation of Australia.

Name: Adam Ridgeway
Mob: Worimi

To me the theme is paying respect to the centuries of resistance and continued fight to assert our peoples’ rights. ‘Always was, Always will Be’ also speaks to the continued ignorance and inevitable collapse of civilisations that treat family and country as resources.

Name: Samantha Hill
Mob: Dharawal and Wandandian

The bond of humanity and land was never severed. Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders remain strong and united to protect their history, present and future.

Name: Liz Dale
Mob: Worimi Nation

For me this years theme means 2 things. Firstly for us it means not forgetting who we are or were we come from – and to use this as a source of strength while we continue to fight for equality and justice. For non-Aboriginal people, I hope that it encourages them to find out about the true history of this country so they can appreciate that sovereignty has not yet been ceded and that change needs to occur for the words of the Uluru statement to become reality.

Name: Andrew Sulter
Mob: Gomeroi

This year’s theme of “Always Was, Always Will Be” acknowledges the true history of this nation. That we as first nations people have always and will forever have a connection to country, and that the rest of society needs understand the true history.

Name: Paul Chandler
Mob: Bidjigal

My people have survived and thrived living within country for tens of thousands of years despite repeated attempts (often hostile) at changing us. Always was, always will be.

Name: Jaymee Beveridge
Mob: Bindal woman from Far North Queensland with ties to Torres Strait Islands

Shines the light on the importance of Country, connectedness and truth-telling. It also illuminates albeit subtly, our notions and understandings of time, custodianship and survival.

Name: Ness Pagett
Mob: Yuin

It is this a statement of undeniable truth.

Name: Josie Rose Atkinson
Mob: Gumbaynggirr Nation

The iconic chant “Always Was, Always Will Be” inspires a sense of Ancestral connection, spiritual fortitude, strength-based resilience and emotional healing with the inter-generational trauma and triumph of our foremothers and forefathers who dedicated their lives towards creating a betterment future our collective people’s land and human rights.

Name: Christina Roberts
Mob: Kamilaroi

This means more than acknowledgement of the cultural connections to our Country/ Nations across Australia – it reinforces that our cultural and spiritual connections are not just stories from the past, from our ancestors or the dreaming stories passed down BUT that we, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, our Culture and our connection to Country is alive and well today.

Name: Sharon Twyford-Ingram
Mob: Wiradjuri

Always was a proud Aboriginal woman and Always Will Be proud of our culture traditions and history who respects our elders and custodians of our land which Always Was and Always will be!! Walking hand in hand with our people with our heads held high!!