A view to the past as NAIDOC week starts

Twenty-nine Bendigo organisations received Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at yesterday’s flag raising ceremony, officially launching NAIDOC week 2014.DJA Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Graham Atkinson took the audience 200 years back in time on Monday at this week’s NAIDOC opening ceremony in Bendigo.

More than 200 people listened as described an untouched landscape of quartz outcrops, grasses covering long gullies and bushes overlooking tree-lined creeks, while elders taught their children to live with their country.

Mr Atkinson’s description of a past Bendigo landscape kicked off NAIDOC week 2014 during the flag ceremony on Monday.

He said the lessons of the past could help guide the future of Bendigo.

“If you looked at how the traditional owners managed and looked after the land, they left it in good shape for when European occupation occurred,” he said.

“That’s why we like to take people on that journey back in time.”

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The flag raising ceremony featured traditional dances and the presentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to 29 local organisations to demonstrate their involvement in “active reconciliation”.

Mr Atkinson said the number of groups involved increased every year.

“When I did this last year there were between 14 and 20, and now there are 29 recipients this year. That in itself suggests that it is gaining wider interest,” he said.

NAIDOC week, which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, is held each July to celebrate Aboriginal culture.

City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said the council had a strong relationship with local Aboriginal communities. “We’re meeting with them often and making sure that what we do is in sync with what they’re trying to do, that we can involve them in as many activities as we possibly can,” he said.

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