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NAIDOC Week 2023: For our Elders

Published 06 Jul 2023

This NAIDOC Week, we were lucky enough to hear directly from Elders themselves, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who sent in powerful words from their ancestral homelands. 

Their wise reflections spoke to this year’s theme ‘For our Elders’, touching on the importance of listening, keeping language alive and how traditional cultural practices and knowledge can help address environmental challenges.

Lynette Nixon

Gunggari Country, Maranoa Region, Southwest QLD.

“My name is Lynette Nixon. I’m a Gunggarri woman from the Maranoa. I’ve been a Murri woman all my life. Caring for Country is very important.

“I can remember when I was little, my grandmother used to tell me that the Country's always listening for your voice.”

That means you’re connected to Country, and everything about you belongs to Country. You have to take care for everything that's on your Country.

If we would have listened to the old people and taken care of the Country in the way that we should have, the way that they have done for 60,000 years, we would save ourselves a lot of heartache. It's in our own benefits to take care of the Country. It’s for everybody’s benefits to hold up them old cultural ways.”

Lynette Nixon

Naizel Enosa

Argan Clan, Badu Island, Torres Straits

Naizel Enosa spoke in Kala Lagau Ya language about the powerful lessons passed down by the Elders in his community. The following was translated into English.

“I acknowledge my ancestors, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, mothers and fathers who have gone before, and mothers and fathers who are still with us today. I am greatly thankful to them for the knowledge that they have passed on to me. Here today, in my dialect I am speaking, Kala Lagau Ya.

“The knowledge that was orally practiced from the very beginning of time is still practiced today by our older people, mothers, fathers, and Elders.” 

I am greatly thankful for them and encourage today’s generation, and generations to come, to lean on our Elders to carry on our knowledge the right way in our community, wherever we travel.”

Naizel Enosa.

Roy McDonnell

Atambaya Clan, Cape York, North QLD

“Our Elders are the pillars of our community. They are here to give us knowledge and wisdom that’s been passed down to them, they are passing it down to us. We must care for our Elders because they are the ones who brought us to where we are today.

“They are the ones who are going to tell us about kinship, storylines, dancelines, songlines and our forefathers.”

Our Elders have always been fighting for us and our people to get to where we are today. We must sit with our Elders. We know that they'll get tired of us asking questions and they'll say, 'Oh, go away, we’re tired from answering questions,' but we need all the information that’s stored in that head of theirs. Our Elders are very important."

Roy McDonnell.

Join us across all our channels as we tell more stories from and about Elders throughout the month of July.  

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