Indigenous culture celebrated at UNDA during NAIDOC week
Aboriginal Artist David Pigram, from renowned Broome seven-piece country folk/rock band The Pigram Brothers, sings for the audience at a special event held for NAIDOC Week at UNDA, Fremantle. PHOTO: Leigh Dawson
By Marco Ceccarelli
The rich history and culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples were celebrated at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, last week, in a special event that highlighted this year’s NAIDOC Week theme: We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect, Celebrate.
Head of Aboriginal Health and National Director of Indigenous Education, Associate Professor Clive Walley facilitated the event, drawing attention to the importance of the “sacred ground” on which UNDA is situated.
“Sacred places can be geographic features, like a river, a beach, mountain ranges, bays, inlets, hills, ceremonial grounds, galleries of rock art with engravings or places of gathering for cultural practice,” Professor Walley said.
“Long before European arrival, these places had traditional names, names that now reflect the timeless relationship between the people and the land, often sacred places. This year’s theme was chosen to highlight the anniversary of the handing back of Uluru, one of the sacred sites, to the traditional owners on 26 October, 30 years ago this year,” he added.
After a Welcome to Country by Nyungar Elder Marie Taylor, the good spirits of the Wadjuk people of Nyungar nation were summoned by Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup, who delivered a powerful keynote address on the reasons why the land is sacred.
“We share this place. We have layers and layers of history that make this place sacred. Then, of course, there’s the great Creator. If we believe in that, we understand that He made this place for us. He made it sacred. That’s why we have to look after it.
“This is a land that demands movement; if you don’t move, then, quite simply, it will move you. Our people did that in the six-season cycle.
“Folks, we all have beliefs, we all tread on this amazing country, we share it together and, as we do, we have to consider every possible aspect of it,” Dr Nannup said.
Representing the Vice Chancellor, the Dean of the School of Business Professor Chris Doepel briefly responded to the keynote address, inviting the audience to reflect on the years of human culture and activity, spiritual culture and realisation, which make up the sacred ground on which UNDA stands.
The theme was then placed into context through a short video narrating the development of Fremantle before, during and after European settlement and a musical performance by Aboriginal Artist David Pigram, from renowned Broome seven-piece country folk/rock band, The Pigram Brothers.
Those in attendance were invited to a flag raising ceremony on Mouat Street, where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised to either side of the Australian flag -sign of the university’s commitment to improving relations among different cultures and backgrounds.
To conclude the event, a Nyungar Tour of Notre Dame’s Fremantle Campus in the West End, Bathers Beach and the Roundhouse was run by Dr Nannup and Ms Taylor, who recounted stories of family life, Fremantle’s Indigenous history and ongoing cultural development.
NAIDOC is the acronym for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee and is the title of week-long activities to celebrate Australia’s Indigenous culture.
Notre Dame values the importance of a whole-university approach to reconciliation that recognises and builds on existing commitments to the education of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples throughout Australia.