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The inspiring Indigenous Aussie celebs who are talking about NAIDOC Week and shining a light on its themes

''I belong to that country and a part of that country is in me.''

By Faye Couros
There are many themes connected to NAIDOC Week, and First Nations celebrities have amplified their voices and platforms to open the conversation about these topics that ought to be understood by this country's citizens and leaders.
NAIDOC Week's origins come from years of protests and boycotts of Australia Day by Indigenous Australian communities.
Their hard and tireless work eventually led to the Day of Mourning which was held from 1938 till 1955.
In 1995 it changed its date to the first Sunday of July, and in 1957 the committee of NAIDOC was formed.
Finally, in 1975 it was extended for a week to celebrate the accomplishments and culture of Australia's First Nation people.
This years theme is Heal Country. Instagram
This year, NAIDOC Week's theme is Heal Country!
This in part responds to the devastation of Australian land in the wake of the 2020 bush fires.
In an update on the official NAIDOC Week Instagram, the committee explained: "Healing Country means embracing First Nation's cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia's national heritage.The right to protect Country and culture is fundamental. Destruction and desecration of our sacred lands or ancient sites - some of the oldest human occupation sites on the planet – is an enormous loss for both our nation and the world."
The post ended with a resounding call to action: "But to truly heal Country we have more to do."
To celebrate this theme, many high profile First Nations people have discussed the importance of NAIDOC and what it means to them this year.
First Nations journalist and TV presenter Brooke Boney has extensively used her platform to bring forth meaningful Indigenous Australian conversations.
On Today Entertainment, she spoke about NAIDOC week and the meaning behind its theme.
She started her address by speaking about her family's connection to the land and what Country represents to First Nation Australians.
Brooke Boney has spoken many times about her heritage. Instagram
She began, "I just wanted to have a chat to you because it is NAIDOC week this week... So, I am a Gamilaroi woman my family have been there for tens and thousands of years. And when we talk about country we aren't talking about ownership or property, what it means is that I belong to that country and a part of that country is in me."
Brooke continued to talk about healing and how it manifests within the week of NAIDOC.
"So, when we talk about healing country we are talking about a broad concept around protecting heritage and culture and all of the things that make that up.
"So, this week when we are celebrating NAIDOC week, keep that in mind that there is tens of thousands of years of culture and heritage right here in our backyards and that is something that we can all be really proud of," she finished.
Watch Brook's address below:
Model Samantha Harris is a Yorta-Yorta woman born in Tweed Heads.
She has recently announced her partnership with the World Wildlife Fund Australia's Indigenous Ranger Management Plan.
Speaking with Nine Honey, Samantha discussed what the NAIDOC theme means to her, and she chose to encapsulate her sentiment within a global sense.
"Healing country, I suppose, to me means looking after our world at its core. We don't get another land once it's scorched or destroyed, and we need to start now.
"That's a really hard thing to say, because some people might not think that way," she said.
Sam became a model after winning the Girlfriend model search. Instagram
This year singer Jessica Mauboy partnered with TikTok for NAIDOC Week to host live-streamed music shows which feature First Nations artists with Jessica headlining.
In conversation with Seven News, the Aussie pop culture icon spoke about using her virtual space to profile Indigenous businesses.
It's important during this week to place First Nation companies under a magnifying glass because its broader theme is about amplifying these achievements, which is why Jessica's actions are the perfect message.
"I'm really excited ... coming on and being a leader and being able to bring a lot of that community to light.
"I'm sure I'll be shouting out to indigenous businesses out there that are creating so much, whether it's t-shirts ... accessories ... paintings," she explained.
On her Instagram, Jessica penned a caption that highlights how people can educate themselves.

"This year's @NAIDOCWeek theme is Heal Country! It calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
"I really want to encourage you all to get involved and get educated about the importance of NAIDOC Week and the work that is being done and needs to be done. The NAIDOC Week website has some really helpful resources. Get amongst it you mob! ⠀
"For First Nations mob in the music industry, @SupportAct provides a dedicated First Nations wellbeing helpline along with other helpful wellbeing and financial services so if you're in need of support I recommend reaching out to the legends at Support Act!," she wrote.
"I really want to encourage you all to get involved." Instagram
Model Nathan McGuire has been outspoken about diversity within the Australian fashion Industry.
During NAIDOC Week in 2020, Nathan wrote a story for The Guardian about representation within the industry.
He spoke about how much work there is to go and how he would like brands to approach the issue.
He wrote, "Diversity can't just be about ticking a box. About saying 'Yep, we have the Aborginal model, or the Asian model, so we've done our job'. It has to happen by consulting with communities and putting people together on the same level. Brands have budgets for this sort of thing. It could be as simple as a CEO deciding to re-allocate budgets, to work on behalf of the communities you want to be allied with. Moving that 'Australia Day sale' budget into doing a campaign around NAIDOC Week instead, for instance."
This year he kicked off NAIDOC the week by posting a picture of himself on the set of the first photoshoot he got to work on as creative director.
"It has to happen by consulting with communities and putting people together on the same level." Instagram
In his proud caption, he highlighted the amazing women he worked with and spoke of their conversations about different issues, successes, dreams, and the future.
"To kick off NAIDOC WEEK 2021, I wanted to share my very first shoot that I was the Creative Director for with @missnaidoc Perth. It was such an honour to create this shoot with Co-Founder & my big sister @shannie_mac ✨Alongside Aunty Glenda Kickett, they have established Miss NAIDOC Perth as one of the most successful community programs in Boorloo (Perth)," he started.
"Creating a sisterhood, these women discuss issues facing our community, their successes, dreams and hopes for the future over the programs 6-week period. In the last 11 years the program continues to go from strength to strength.
"I am so proud and thankful for such a wonderful team to create this special shoot to showcase these intelligent, talented, brave and amazing young leaders within our community in Boorloo (Perth).
"Here's to a fantastic NAIDOC Week for 2021," he finished.
A shot from Nathan's first shoot as Creative director. Instagram
First Nations influencer, model and activist, Fallon Gregory has amassed a 24,000 following on Instagram.
She is a Jika and Bardi Jawi woman who regularly uses her platform to discuss important issues and make calls for change.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week, she posted a video onto Instagram with a caption that delves deeply into her interpretation of its themes.
It is evident her words come from a deeply spiritual place that is rooted within Country and its connection to her.

She wrote, "We are visitors here. We are birthed by our creators and our traditional countries to sustain, preserve and care for our providers. This has been the way since time, a mutual and maintained balance of respect between people, land, air, sea, animal and plant.
"When it becomes time, and we've had our time here, we return." Instagram
"When it becomes time, and we've had our time here, we return. We return to our country. So, to heal country also means to heal and maintain that balance, but to also heal us. The visitors 👣 #HealCountry #NAIDOCWEEK2021 #NAIDOCWEEK."

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