This week, 8 – 15 July is NAIDOC week across Australia. Following this year’s theme of ‘because of her, we can’ I want to tell you about the importance of women in all the work I do especially within my Aboriginal Services.
Women play a significant role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and this NAIDOC week we are asked to reflect on their contribution to the growth and development of our country.
For at least 65,000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge. In more recent times they have been there at the forefront of major turning points in Australian culture and history. From the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, to the 1967 Referendum – which included Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples in Australia’s population figures – to more modern issues such as the 2008 apology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women have been a driving force for Aboriginal rights.
Having strong female role models is absolutely crucial to helping young people grow, not only is it important for young women, but young men draw so much from mothers, grandmothers, aunties and friends. Across my organisation, Youth Off The Streets, we have female staff in every program, from schools to outreach to specialist services the women in our programs contribute enormous amounts to bettering the lives of young people.
We have so much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their culture. There are many inspiring stories from women on the NAIDOC week website at: www.naidoc.org.au. This NAIDOC week I ask you to reflect on the theme of ‘because of her, we can’ and think about how important women have been in supporting you and your community.
-Father Chris Riley,
CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets