After two years of mostly no in-person celebrations for NAIDOC Week, it is refreshing to finally celebrate NAIDOC across the country, together. 

We held our own NAIDOC celebration with an Open Day at Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe (Children’s Ground Central Australia) on Tuesday.  Staff, children and families of Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe were thrilled to welcome the wider community and showcase our work across learning, health, creative arts, community development and governance – all led by First Nations knowledge and culture.

Traditional Owner for Mparntwe and Senior Arrernte Educator Felicity Hayes led the Welcome to Country before guests were invited to smoke themselves with Arrethe (erimophila) bush.

Young Arrernte girls performed the rainbow anthepe (Arrernte women’s dance) while their Elders sung and guided them.

Felicity Hayes

We all had a good feed of roo tail, stew and damper and listened to First Nations leaders speak strongly about the importance of NAIDOC and our inspiring old people:

“The old people did the hard work for the common good – for all. Their commitment was bigger than their self interest. They gave  themselves – not because they had much – but they knew what it was like to have nothing. And they knew it was their responsibility,” said William Tilmouth, Chair and co-founder of Children’s Ground.

“They questioned the systems and they questioned the status quo. They got up. They stood up. They spoke up. They showed up.” 

“We at Children’s Ground listened to what the old people said over many years,” William added. “They have always been calling out for systemic change. Their voices may have been quiet, but their intention was loud and clear. We put their vision in a new system – driven by our people, in our communities.”

Thank you to everyone who attended for being part of this special celebration of community, country, culture and the wisdom of Elders. Kele mwerre (thank you).

Kangaroo Tail lunch

Elders at the open day

Community open day

Community at the open day