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Children's Ground leader and Arrernte leader Felicity Hayes' reflection on the NAIDOC Week 2023 theme; For Our Elders.

Akangkwe-irretyeke anwerne-kenhe Akngerre-apate mapeke (Celebrating the importance of all Elders).

Our Elders are so important to us because they hold our cultural knowledge and lore. They give us guidance and advice about how to live in the way that we were meant to live.

Our Elders are our story tellers, keepers of our lore and our country. They have our song lines that connect us to our countries, and they show us where our song lines start and end.

They tell us to respect and live in harmony with our extended families, our communities and others from different language groups. They encourage us to uphold our lores and cultural practices and teach the next generation of children, leaders and Elders to continue in our cultural traditions.

They also tell us how important it is to teach our language and culture strongly for our next generation.

In First Nations culture, the families of the elderly people look after them as people get older.

 In the old days people used to look after them at home. They fed them and kept them clean and took great care of them. The immediate family were responsible, taking them to the clinic or hospital if they needed medical assistance or if they got seriously sick.

Sometimes, old people had healing songs they would sing to themselves at night so they can sleep well. Elders used to tell stories to young people and grandchildren around the campfires before they went to sleep.

To look after our Elders, elderly people should be taken back on Country to be looked after on their own lands and not put into homes. 

The old people are happy when they go to their traditional land; the home where they grew up with their parents and grandparents and families.

MK Turner (Director of Children’s Ground and senior Arrernte law woman) said she gets happy when she goes back to her country, Akerte. She says this is where she used to walk with parents and families, and now she is back here passing on stories to the next generation. 

About the author

Felicity Hayes

Felicity Hayes is a Children’s Ground leader and Arrernte Elder

— Posted on 04 Jul 2023