While starting to think about writing this article, the most wonderful thing happened. I was packing up my paperwork as I am moving house, and to my surprise, I found a letter from the Secretary of the Queensland NAIDOC Week committee asking me to be a judge for the 1976 Miss NAIDOC competition. To me, this was not a coincidence given that I am currently planning this year’s postponed NAIDOC Week events…thank you Lord!
Looking back to 1976, I remember being so surprised by this request that I ran to the phone to call my modelling agency to get their input. Now this may seem an odd thing to do but as those who know me will confirm, seeking other people’s views is very much me. Even though I was very present and vocal at our Aboriginal rights protests in Brisbane and at the 1972 Tent Embassy in Canberra and also a fashion model, I was not a confident person due to my identity and stuttering.
I was very much a part of my community and I so loved the fact that I was not judged by my people for being a fashion model. Achieving my dream and breaking the many barriers was so important, although the last thing I wanted was my people thinking that I was ‘uppity’ or full of myself. I just wanted to be accepted as one of them, as I, too, had struggled with the racism that remains part of the Australian culture.
Receiving this request nine years after the Referendum to include First Nations peoples in the Census, we were still struggling for acceptance of our identity, to have our voices heard, to have our histories acknowledged and taught and for the beauty of our cultures and the strength of our communities to be seen.
Despite my anxieties and insecurities, I agreed to be a judge for the 1976 Miss NAIDOC competition. To me, this was not just about beauty this was also about projecting a positive attitude towards our women.
Throughout the years back then in Australia, the media took wonderful photos and wrote positive news stories about us celebrating NAIDOC Week. After the celebrations, I always wondered, “Where’s the media now, where are the positive stories and wonderful photographs?”
Fast forward to present day…times have changed. We have our own national television channel NITV, radio programs and hundreds of podcasts. Every week now, our cultures and achievements are celebrated and our histories told.
This year, NAIDOC Week’s theme is Heal Country and given the state Australia is currently in, we need to heal, starting from the inside. Due to the COVID-19 many NAIDOC Week celebrations were postponed. While some parishes, schools and ministries in our Diocese marked NAIDOC Week in early July, the Anglican Church Southern Queensland Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group is continuing NAIDOC Week celebrations in early September.
With the shifting Covid-19 environment, we have arranged some NAIDOC Week events to be held via Zoom. From the comfort of home or work, you can join in these online conversations.
Please register for the following events through Eventbrite to receive your Zoom Link.
- NAIDOC Week 2021 Information Session with Supply Nation: Wednesday 1 September at 3 pm
- NAIDOC Week Information Session with Dr Noritta Morseu-Diop: Friday 3 September at 11 am
- A Conversation with The Rev’d ‘Aunty’ Lenore Parker: Tuesday 7 September at 6.30 pm
- A Conversation with Members of NATSIAC: Thursday 9 September at 11 am
Reflecting back allows me to be grateful for the resilience and persistence of our Elders in teaching us ‘young ones’ to always remember who we are, to continue the fight and achieve our dreams …our past, our present and our future.
That’s why NAIDOC Week means so much to me as a First Nations person.
Editor’s note 30 August 2021: The Supply Nation event start time was updated.Jump to next article