Burnet Institute will come together to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2020 and the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Burnet Program Manager, EC Australia Aboriginal Health Plan, Troy Combo, said NAIDOC Week 2020 theme describes the lasting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander occupation of Australia.
“This year’s theme of Always Was, Always Will Be is a reminder of the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history in Australia and encourages all Australians to learn more about this history,” he said.
Burnet Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Council Chair, Professor Caroline Homer AO, said the Institute was “totally committed” to recognising and celebrating the First Nations’ occupation and care for the continent over this time, and their ongoing spiritual and cultural connection to country.
“As a midwife, I recognise and pay respect to thousands of generations of women and families who gave birth and brought up their children on these lands,” Professor Homer said.
“The resilience and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is remarkable.”
Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC, said the recognition and celebration of the world’s longest surviving cultures and communities was significant in working to close the gap in outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
“Burnet’s vision is Equity through better health. The inequity and entrenched disadvantage experienced by First Nations peoples cannot continue. It is terrible for those affected, and it holds all of Australia back. With this in mind, we will continue to work hard to improve health for First Nations peoples,” Professor Crabb said.
Professor Crabb said Burnet’s work towards developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), driven by the GEDI Council, was an important step.
Burnet Research Fellow and RAP Committee member, Dr Alyce Wilson said the Committee was set up early in 2020 to develop a ‘Level 1 – Reflect’ RAP.
“The Committee has been involved in various activities as part of this process including developing guidance around acknowledgment of Country, undertaking a staff survey regarding development of the RAP, cultural competency training, and building networks with other RAP committees across the Alfred Precinct,” Dr Wilson said.
Dr Wilson said the Level 1 plan would involve scoping and developing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, which would allow the RAP Committee to decide on a vision for reconciliation before committing to more specific actions.
She said the Burnet RAP Committee was committed to ensuring the Institute’s RAP was not tokenistic, citing other organisations whose actions have shown disregard for First Nations peoples despite having their own RAP in place.
Burnet staff and students will attend a NAIDOC Week themed session on Zoom, hearing from First Nations speakers including Professor James Ward and Burnet Board Member, Professor Sandra Eades.
“Usually celebrated nationally in the first week of July. This year, due to COIVD-19 NAIDOC week is being celebrated in November,” Mr Combo said.
“NAIDOC stands for the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”
More information about NAIDOC Week