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|NAIDOC Week 2020: Always Was, Always Will Be|
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are Australia’s first peoples, and are recognised as the oldest continuous cultures on Earth.
Across Australia from November 8-15, communities came together to celebrate NAIDOC Week. In Ho Chi Minh City, the Australian Consulate-General was pleased to bring together members of the Australian alumni and broader communities for a reception that showcased the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and explained their significanc as an essential part of contemporary Australian identity.
Consul-General Julianne Cowley noted, “Each year in Australia, NAIDOC is celebrated not only in indigenous communities but by Australians from all walks of life. The theme for NAIDOC this year is Always Was, Always Will Be, recognising that indigenous people have been occupying and caring for the Australian continent for over 65,000 years. We are proud to share this history and these vibrant cultures with our communities in Vietnam.”
The reception also took participants on a virtual journey to the Pilbara region in Western Australia – a region that not only boasts magnificent landscapes but also has rich and diverse heritage with more than 31 Aboriginal groups. The Pilbara also has a vibrant art and cultural scene, with several Aboriginal arts initiatives. One of the most notable entreprises is Goolarri Media Entreprises, which has developed a pathways programme for young local indigenous girls to develop a career in the arts and media industries.
A highlight of the NAIDOC Week reception in Ho Chi Minh City was a converstion with Betty Tran, an established Australian Vietnamese fashion entrepreneur originally based in Western Australia. In 2014, Betty undertook an ambitious project to mentor a group of talented, young Aboriginal women, many of whom took part in Goolarri’s programmes. The project culminated with an opportunity for the young Pilbara women to walk the runways of New York as part of a Betty Tran Designs fashion show.
“It was an wonderful experience learning about the unique sense of community and the spiritual connection with the land that the Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara shared with me. I came into the programme originally as a mentor, but the girls have taught me so much more and given me incredible inspiration for my work,” Betty shared.