4 July 2021.

This week the Sax Institute joins in the 2021 NAIDOC Celebrations. This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Heal Country,’ which “calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity.”

NAIDOC originated from the political activism of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the 1930s.  Their stoic efforts have led to the many Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations we see today.  From the 1970s onward these organisations have flourished, established by Community people to meet the Community’s needs.  They include the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services who are now playing a vital leadership role in research to improve Aboriginal health.

Sandra Bailey, Senior Adviser, Aboriginal Health at the Sax Institute, says the Institute is honoured to be working with many of these great leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“There is so much exciting work being led by Aboriginal communities that is changing the way we research and improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians,” she says. “By celebrating and acknowledging the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health stories, experiences and knowledge, we can truly begin to ‘heal country.’”

Some of these standout projects include: Community-led yarning interviews that are providing powerful insights for the Cancer and Healthy Ageing in Aboriginal NSW Older Generations Study (CHANGES); new research with communities that will test ways for supporting the mental health of Aboriginal health service workers during COVID; and an exciting new Aboriginal-led project that will build evaluation capacity in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector and provide urgently needed evidence about what works in the priority health areas of Aboriginal youth suicide and adult chronic disease.

As we celebrate the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and community health workers, we hope all Australians can do their bit this week in ‘healing country.’ Here are some ideas from the NAIDOC website for the week ahead. Be sure to check your state and territory information for the latest information on COVID-19 restrictions.

  1. Virtually attend one of the many of the online events available in the NAIDOC Week Official Calendar
  2. Call someone in your community to have a chat about this year’s theme ‘Heal Country!’ and what it means to you
  3. Watch special NAIDOC Week programming on SBS/NITV and ABC
  4. Learn more about the Country on which you live and work using the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia
  5. Find a book to read, written and published by Indigenous authors and illustrators through Magabala Books or suggest one for your next book club
  6. Check out some music and podcasts from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creators on Indigitube.
  7. Take a look at how you can support Indigenous businesses through the Supply Nation Indigenous Business Direct.
  8. Learn more about how deliver an Acknowledgement of Country
  9. Find out more about the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and how you can fly them.
  10. Get creative in the kitchen using Australian bushfood and native ingredients such as kangaroo, macadamia or lemon myrtle.
  11. Use this year’s theme to connect to Country by going for a walk (if restrictions permit), exercising outside, visiting a local park or gardening.
  12. Research Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history or start some family history research.
  13. Visit the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander exhibitions of museums and galleries in-person or online.
  14. Plan your Australian travel bucket list including Indigenous sites of significance or interest. 
  15. Join the conversation online using the NAIDOC Week hashtags #NAIDOC2021, #NAIDOCWeek and #HealCountry

Happy NAIDOC week 2021!