Treaty and shared future themes

Gavin OShannassy plays the didgeridoo at Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation on Monday to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2019.
Gavin OShannassy plays the didgeridoo at Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation on Monday to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2019.

RAMAHYUCK District Aboriginal Corporation celebrated NAIDOC Week on Monday, with a large crowd attending to watch a flag raising ceremony, dancing, a smoking ceremony and a performance by didgeridoo player Gavin O'Shannassy.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This year's theme was 'Voice. Treaty. Truth. - Let's work together for a shared future'.

Children from Ramahyuck's Cultural Connections Dance Group braved the wintery conditions to perform a number of dances, and invited their kindergarten and primary school aged compatriots to join them as figurative kangaroos and emus.

Ramahyuck indigenous services officer Jodie Douthat said this year's theme represented the unified position of First Nations.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want their voice to be heard," she said.

"First Nations were excluded from the constitutional convention debates of the 1800s when the Australian constitution came into force and indigenous people were excluded from the bargaining table.

"The true story of colonisation must be told - it must be heard, and it must be acknowledged.

"Hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, and some genuine healing for both sides.

"This is not just the history of our First Peoples - it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.

"Then we can move forward together."

Recently-deceased former Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously declared a treaty would be made between indigenous Australians and the Australian government by 1990, which prompted iconic Australian musicians Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett to team up with indigenous band Yothu Yindi to write the hit song Treaty.

Some of the song's most well known lyrics were even more poignant during NAIDOC week.

This land was never given up

This land was never bought and sold

The planting of the Union Jack

Never changed our law at all

Now two rivers run their course

Separated for so long

I'm dreaming of a brighter day

When the waters will be one

Treaty yeah, treaty now!

Ramahyuck's Sale headquarters was decked out in posters with the slogan 'Treaty. It's Time', while Ramahyuck chairperson Debbie Leon said a substantive treaty was well overdue.

"Australia is the only Commonwealth country in the world without a treaty," she said.

"I only hope that there is some progress before the next generation comes through."

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