2024 NAIDOC Week artwork by Deb Belyea.

NAIDOC Week 2024: KEEP THE FIRE BURNING! BLAK, LOUD AND PROUD, is a celebration of the strength and vitality of Australia’s First Nations People and an opportunity to honour the ancient spirituality and culture embedded in the heart of this nation for over 65,000 years.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have experienced and graciously shared with us sacred creation stories, songlines and profound wisdom that reveal an ancient spirit of God. God who is near us, above us, below us, in us, and with us always.

Come with us on the journey. Come with us on a pilgrimage and let the land speak, and let the people speak… Yarta Wandatha: The land is speaking. The people are speaking. “When you come with us and you hear our creation stories, you’ll hear the most ancient voice of God speaking… As Aboriginal peoples we hold knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, that not only our own, but all peoples need to learn from – language for God, wisdom for God’s people, and challenge for the way ahead. For the church to be complete, our voices must be heard.
Aunty Rev Denise Champion is an Adnyamathanha woman, theologian and Uniting Church Minister.
The quote is from Denise’s book Anaditj and image from website.

one thing that I’ve learnt over the last 66 years is that being consistent, honest, fair and real is so important to life… treat every thing and every one the same … in every thing we do help others and… life becomes a lot simpler… with great direction hold the things you have a passion for close… nobody is bigger than another.

Wonnarua Elder – Uncle Greg Hughes.*

I invited Aboriginal People to share what it means to them to be Blak, Loud and Proud and here are their responses:

When we know we have to keep the fire burning we understand fire keeps us warm on a cold night. Fire cleanses when country gets over-grown, preparing it for new growth. When we decide to stand tall, loud and proud we take the strength of who we are, to show the way, give light on a dark night. We are the light of a new day dawning as we reclaim our responsibility to look after – cleanse country: look after and open pathways for our children and young people: and provide warmth for our Elders as we all move into the future which is ours by birthright.Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage.*

To be Blak, Loud, and Proud means carrying the strength and resilience of our ancestors, and our Elders in every step we take. It’s about being proud our culture while advocating for our rights and voices to be heard. Being proud of our identity means embracing our stories, our languages, and our Lore, and sharing our culture with the world. Keeping the fire burning is a commitment to ensuring that our communities thrive, our children grow up knowing who they are, culture proud and culture strong, and our culture remains vibrant and alive.Darcy Godden – A proud Kamilaroi and Wonnarua man.*

As a proud Ngarrindjeri woman this year’s theme, ‘Keep the Fire Burning, Blak Loud and Proud,’ resonates deeply with me. It symbolises a collective journey of unity and pride. Keep the Fire Burning, Blak Loud and Proud is more than just a theme; it our movement, a way of life. It inspires us to embrace our heritage with pride and I believe now more than ever it’s time to share it with the world.

Being ‘Blak Loud and Proud’ is about embracing and celebrating our Aboriginal identity openly and confidently. It’s about taking pride in who we are and where we come from. It’s a powerful statement against the erasure and marginalisation that our people have faced for centuries. By standing loud and proud, we assert our presence, our rights, and our contributions to the broader Australian society. By coming together for this collective celebration, it fosters a sense of belonging and mutual respect, we can create a more inclusive and harmonious society by enriching the cultural fabric of our nation.Mary-Anne Lovegrove – A proud Ngarrindjeri woman.*

We know all creation reveals God and every person on Earth holds a spark of divine life to those who have open hearts, eyes to see and ears to hear. From this perspective we can create a nation where Australia’s First Nations People’s voices are heard and cherished. During NAIDOC Week 2024, let’s listen to the inspirational and gracious voices of Blak, Loud and Proud Aboriginal People. This is an invitation to eliminate racism by lighting fires of compassion, kindness, justice and equality and creating a beloved community where everyone flourishes.

Cassandra Gibbs.

Cassandra Gibbs a Gamilaraay and Yuwalaraay yinaar (woman) and Sisters of Saint Joseph Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Facilitator, has suggested the activities below for NAIDOC Week 2024:

  • Listen to Indigenous musicians or watch a movie about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
  • Study a famous Indigenous Australian.
  • Research the Traditional Owners of your area.
  • Run an art competition for your school or community.
  • Display the National NAIDOC Poster or other Indigenous posters around your classroom or workplace.
  • Start your own hall of fame featuring Indigenous role models around your home, classroom or workplace.
  • Learn the meanings of local or national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place names and words.
  • Invite local Indigenous Elders to speak or give a Welcome to Country at your school or workplace.
  • Invite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander dancers to perform at your school or workplace.
  • Hold a flag raising ceremony at your school or workplace.
  • Visit local Indigenous sites of significance or interest.
  • Attend an Indigenous arts and crafts workshop.
  • Host a community BBQ or luncheon.
  • Organise a smoking ceremony.
  • Read stories of Dreaming.
  • Read the poetry and literature of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Peoples.
  • Organise a trip or excursion to one of the many sites of significance and history to Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Peoples that allow visitors.
  • Invite an Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Elder into your classroom to speak to your students about their culture.
  • There are also many programs broadcast on TV before and during NAIDOC Week, sharing some of these with your students or inviting them to watch them at home with their families can be a great source of information.

Kenise Neill rsj


* Image and words displayed with permission.