NAIDOC Week Celebrations Across Respect’s Aged Care Homes
Mt St Vincent |
Each July, NAIDOC week unites Australians to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme was ‘For the Elders’, and it proved a great opportunity for our residents and staff to acknowledge the continuing impact and legacy of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.
At Mt St Vincent in West Ulverstone, our social care team created a NAIDOC week-themed display, which was proudly put on show at the home’s entrance. Featuring the official NAIDOC poster for 2023, native flowers, as well as Aboriginal artwork, it encouraged staff, residents and visitors to take a moment to pause and reflect on the week and its significance.
Christine Hansen, Social Care Assistant, helped drive the development of the display, even bringing along some personal items from home to include. And she says feedback, particularly from residents, has been terrific.
“As I was putting up the display, both our residents and staff were watching it come together. A lot of the flowers, leaves and sticks used were from the garden here! It was a nice refreshing transformation of our front reception. The vibrant colours and meaningful inclusivity behind it prompted a lot of positive comments.” she says.
Christine says that NAIDOC week provided the Mt St Vincent community with a great opportunity to come together and acknowledge Indigenous culture and its importance.
“This was the first NAIDOC week celebration at Mt St Vincent. We’re all about embracing and celebrating different cultures and nationalities, and it was important for us to honour the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were here before us. We look forward to an even bigger display next year!”
Meanwhile, at Cooinda in Lithgow, NSW, our residents and staff were immensely fortunate to welcome some incredible performers from Lithgow High School’s Nagmurr Dance Group in the lead-up to NAIDOC week.
The students performed several dances inspired by the Dreamtime, each brimming with storytelling, meaning and connection with the history, value and traditions of Indigenous culture.
Amanda Wright, Cooinda’s Social Care Coordinator, says the performance was a wonderful opportunity for the home to welcome such talented dancers and together, experience and enjoy a cultural connection through music and dance.
“Our residents were all very moved, feeling a calm and spiritual sense throughout [the performance]. One of our residents even commented on this to the students afterwards,” she says. “All residents expressed how much they enjoyed the performance and that they would love for the dancers to return, even asking and excited by the idea of the returning students to teach them one of the dances!”
Amanda shares that the performance initially came about due to Cooinda’s ongoing connection with Lithgow High School amidst plans to potentially engage in an intergenerational program together to benefit both residents and students in the future. With that in mind, she says it was extremely pleasing to also receive such glowing feedback from students in the Nagmurr Dance Group, who immensely enjoyed their time performing for, and engaging with, our Cooinda community.
“The students performed with great pride for their culture and identity, with inclusion and respect,” she says. “They also shared very positive feedback, with them stating they wanted to return, perform and teach the residents in the future.
“They even told the residents they would be back, as they enjoyed the performance and were eager to teach them more about culture.”
Following the performance, the students took some time to engage with our residents one-on-one, sharing the significance of each dance and the stories behind them. This act of engaged storytelling created a beautiful connection between generations, while fostering understanding and appreciation for Indigenous traditions and culture, and their people’s ongoing contribution and significance to the land we live on.