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NAIDOC [National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee] Week 4-11 July 1999: promoting respect for indigenous cultures.

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Media Release

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)


4 July 1999

NAIDOC Week 4-11 July 1999

Promoting Respect For Indigenous Cultures

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week this year offers all members of the community the chance to show goodwill in recognising and celebrating our Indigenous cultures, ATSIC Chairman Gatjil Djerrkura said today.

And according to the ATSIC Deputy Chair, Ray Robinson, it is an appropriate time to look at establishing a national public holiday that allows all people to join in the celebrations together.

Beginning today, NAIDOC Week runs until next Sunday. Indigenous Australians throughout the country will celebrate the survival of their communities and the continuation of their cultures.

All Australians are invited to join in the NAIDOC celebrations.

"The NAIDOC theme for 1999 is ‘Respect’," Mr Djerrkura said.

"This can mean many things — respect for our elders and our cultures, respect for land, respect for the ideals of equity and equality, respect for the rights of Indigenous Australians. Coincidentally, this year is also the International Year of the Older Person and the end of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

"NAIDOC Week is the chance for our people to look past recent disappointments and setbacks and to focus instead on our achievements and hopes."

The national focus for this year’s activities is Alice Springs, although other communities will stage their own events. A few choose to celebrate NAIDOC Week at other times of the year.

Ray Robinson, who chairs the national NAIDOC committee, said the events in Alice Springs will help focus interest from the rest of the world on our unique Indigenous cultures.

"It’s good for reconciliation as it’s a good chance for both sides to get together," Mr Robinson said.

"But NAIDOC Week would be even more meaningful if we had a national holiday that gave all of us an equal chance to celebrate. Apart from New Year’s Day, there is no other national holiday that unites us all in a common interest. A national day of celebration during NAIDOC Week would make an important statement of national unity."

Events in Alice Springs include the National NAIDOC Ball, where the National NAIDOC Awards will be presented to Indigenous achievers. The $5000 National NAIDOC Art Award will be presented to Warwick Keen (Tamworth, NSW) whose work "Respect — Show Some, Earn Some" has become the poster promoting the Week.

"The winning entry conveys a sense of the responsibilities that come with the Indigenous heritage," Mr Robinson said.

"It also reminds non-Indigenous people that they have a responsibility to honour our cultures."

For further information on NAIDOC Week, visit the ATSC Web site at

Attention Radio News Editors :

News grabs from Mr Djerrkura and Mr Robinson are available on 02 6262 5850. Enter access code 3000.

Media contact from the Office of Public Affairs :

Martin Freckmann 0408 631 045


al  1999-07-05  14:38