culture-sharing-a-community-priorityRamahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation CEO Dr Ali Kahn, right, presented South Gippsland councillor Kieran Kennedy with a hand-painted coolamon at last Wednesday’s flag raising ceremony. South Gippsland Shire Council will host the 2015 Deadly in Gippsland conference. G032814

LOCALS embraced NAIDOC Week events around Bass Coast last week, with record numbers turning out to participate in activities.
Starting with a poignant flag-raising ceremony at Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation’s headquarters in Wonthaggi last Wednesday morning, celebrations kicked into full gear at Wonthaggi Library later in the day when dozens of families filled the spacious children’s section to hear a very entertaining performance by indigenous singer-songwriter Kutcha Edwards.
Backed by a guitarist, Edwards crooned his way through a relaxing midday set full of inspirational messages, frequently interacting with toddlers darting around the library’s large play mat.
Following the concert, families were able to enjoy activities such as boomerang making and basket weaving.
Sonia Weston, business manager for Ramahyuck, said she was astounded by the large crowd at the library.
“This year has been a big change for NAIDOC Week events,” she explained.
“We received funding from Bass Coast Shire, which gave us an opportunity to put more into events around the community.”
Other events during the week included a session on indigenous health and DVD launch at the Inverloch Community Hub, a special display of Bunurong Collection items at the Phillip Island and District Historical Society Museum in Cowes and an indigenous art exhibition in Foster.
Ms Weston said she hopes people participating in NAIDOC Week activities for the first time had gained a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Bass Coast Health CEO, Lea Pope, said a flag raising and traditional smoking ceremony at Wonthaggi Hospital on Thursday morning proved challenging due to bad weather, but attendees persevered.
“There was also a small official ceremony to place a framed copy of the ‘Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples’ made by the Prime Minister in 2008,” Ms Pope said.
“It is very fitting that this has public acknowledgement in our Health Service and reinforces Bass Coast Health’s commitment to better meet the health care needs of our indigenous community.”
She said a copy of the statement of intent to ‘Close the Gap’ in relation to health outcomes for indigenous people was also hung at the hospital as part of the ceremony.
“This statement is between the Victorian Minister for Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Victoria to work together to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the non-indigenous Australians by 2030,” she said.
“There was good participation at the ceremony from representatives of our local indigenous community, other community stakeholders and our staff.”
NAIDOC – which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee – celebrations take place annually during the first week of July.