This year’s NAIDOC week theme reflects the three key elements to reform set out by the Uluru Statement from the Heart. In 2017, a peaceful and inspirational meeting of Australia’s Indigenous Peoples was held in the heart of Australia, and their combined voices shouted and demanded the need for a more active role in the control of their own lives.
The gathering was the culmination of extensive Indigenous consultations from around the country, followed by three days of discussions at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, on Pitjantjatjara lands in Central Australia. The Statement calls for a Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices be constitutionally enshrined in the Australian Parliament, as well as a Makarrata commission to supervise meaningful truth and justice agreements between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the Federal Government.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have sent this message to the wider Australian community: that despite being the most marginalised and disadvantaged group of people in Australia, they remain resilient and strong as they continue to practice their culture, ceremonies, songs, dance, art and creation stories. The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) exists to provide national and international promotional opportunities for more than seventy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community Art Centres. They are the oldest, continuous living cultures in the world. DAAFF was incredibly proud to gather thousands of additional signatures supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart at our 10 year anniversary Fair in 2017.
At DAAFF, we recognise the need to elevate, celebrate and support the voices of Australian First Nations people. Art has a strong and important voice. Through the promotion of our incredible Art Centre Members, we are committed to providing audiences with genuine opportunities to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and staff, who share their cultural heritage through their art. This in turn is a vehicle for preserving language, culture, and traditional practices for future generations. In 2018, a record 75 art centre members participated in the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF), in what is an exciting culmination of inspiring and diverse voices! In August 2019, we are gearing up to do the same and more!
It is time for Australia to recognise and understand the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We must acknowledge the past so that we can all share an even brighter future. Treaty is about coming together, learning and understanding, and DAAF brings together people from all walks of life. In 2018, more than 13,000 people attended The Fair, and 90% of these said they learnt something new about Aboriginal culture. These are huge steps in the direction of justice and in 2019 we would like to see even more people walk through our doors!
Fittingly, 2019 is also the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. All peoples have the right to speak, learn and communicate in their own languages. This is extremely important if we are to speak the true words of Australia. DAAFF supports First Nations voices to be heard during this process. An exciting lineup of Artist Talks in the DAAF public program provides another platform for the truth to be told and, most importantly, heard. This NAIDOC week at DAAF we have been celebrating the unique and vibrant history and future of our First Nations Australians. It is the history and future of all Australians. We want to continue to work together for a shared future.
Happy NAIDOC Week from the board and staff at DAAFF!