Wednesday, 15 August 2018
People of the Northern Territory, we're still here. We will not give up. I would like to speak about an important theme in July, in NAIDOC Week: Because of her, we can! NAIDOC across Australia was especially significant because of the celebration of the achievements of First Nations women. I had the honour of being present in NAIDOC in Sydney.
Firstly, I want to take the Senate to the Northern Territory and commend the many events that took place in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Darwin and the many communities across the Northern Territory. I was there for the celebration and the opening and official launch in Borroloola, with the Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Mara and Gundanji peoples, where we celebrated the work and the wonders of our women. There are people like Dinah Norman Marmgawi, our senior elder of the Yanyuwa, who reminds the women of the gulf region and the Northern Territory of the importance of relationships with country, culture and kin. In Western ways, Dina is like our great-great-grandmother, and that is the relationship and kinship term in which I refer to her and her knowledge of the gudjiga and the songs, especially of the mermaid country. 'Mermaid' is 'ngardiji' in our language. We celebrated the importance of the women and the women dreaming, songs and stories. The young girls who danced with us at the beginning of NAIDOC Week danced as li-antha wirriyarra, which means 'our spiritual origin comes from the sea country'. There was a special significance in the theme, 'Because of her, we can'. These young girls, children, young women, older women, aunties and grandmothers felt a real sense of solidarity and pride with each other, and that was carried through the events of the week.
Then in Darwin, when I was on Larrakia country, we were able to again celebrate the importance of women—'Because of her, we can'. The celebration there took place on various areas across the Darwin and Palmerston community, culminating in a ball on the Saturday night. I want to commend the national NAIDOC committee, and I know that it is a farewell as well, for Anne Martin in particular, who has spearheaded the national NAIDOC committee for the last 10 years. I know that the theme 'Because of her, we can' holds special significance for Anne in terms of her own children and grandchildren. I want to take this opportunity to thank Anne and the NAIDOC committee for the work that they did.
It was beautiful to see the final culmination of national NAIDOC celebrations on Gadigal country and I pay my respects in particular, to the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation, but also to the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, who hosted all participants of the gathering at the ball; thousands of people turned up that evening. The Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council is Yvonne Weldon. She is a Wiradjuri woman and she welcomed, on behalf of the Eora nation, all people who attended.
It was an opportunity to see so many award winners, and I have a tremendous list of those award winners. I want to congratulate each and every person who was recognised by their peers across the country. I also want to say to all Australians that NAIDOC week is an opportunity in our country to respect the diversity of First Nations people. There are so many languages, so many different groups across this beautiful country we all call home, and it is an opportunity to get to know the people in your area. I certainly hope that senators had the opportunity to get to know the women, in particular, in their respective states, on this beautiful theme of 'Because of her, we can'.