With NAIDOC Week now behind us, for our second edition of 2019, with sat down with Bawurra Chief Financial Officer Jackson Whiting to discuss the importance of the NAIDOC Week, how it can be used as a tool for education and reconciliation, and what it means for the Foundation.
Nick: The theme for NAIDOC week was Voice. Treaty. Truth. Why is this an appropriate theme for Bawurra?
Jackson: The theme this year is reflective of the great work Bawurra does within the communities that it operates in. By providing the Bawurra Digital Library to schools, we provide a platform for the voice of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be heard throughout the broader community. With the Bawurra Library and appropriate community consultation, we are able to help share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander truths and enable them to be accepted by the wider community. As a community, we can help work towards treaty.
Nick: Exactly, it is all about giving voices. NAIDOC itself has always an important element of education to it. Why has NAIDOC Week has been a significant date for Bawurra in the past?
Jackson: Indigenous culture is woven into the fabric of this organisation. Given that we are always celebrating culture, NAIDOC week provides the opportunity for Bawurra to reconnect to the wider community and celebrate our culture, history and achievements in unison.
Nick: In regards to that culture, I do want to ask about language specifically. Indigenous language has been something that is a major theme of this year. How will Bawurra continue to incorporate language into its library and programs, particularly going forward?
Jackson: Language is a core part of Indigenous identity, and we place a high value on it. Bawurra is always striving to improve itself and with the help of the community we plan on not only expanding the number of languages we provide, but also increase the functionality of the language classes to make them more effective and engaging for students.
Nick: It’s important we focus on that element of language, as it is a major preservation of culture. Obviously, when it comes to closing the gap on many issues and promoting reconciliation, we still have a long way to go. What does NAIDOC mean for you personally, as a Wiradjuri man?
Jackson: To me, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to bring all Australians together to celebrate the culture, history and achievements on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NAIDOC Week is also an opportunity to reflect on our individual journeys and appreciate our place in the world.
Nick: Yeah, and that place is really important! Lastly, as you touch on, events like this are very much done in the promotion of celebration and reconciliation. What does a reconciled Australia look like to you?
Jackson: A reconciled Australia, to me, is when culture is taught in school as part of the core curriculum; and that reconciliation and NAIDOC Week are not celebrated one week a year but every day, and is truly part of the makeup of every Australian.