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Heal Country, heal our nation. 

NAIDOC Week 2021 runs from 4-11 July and this year’s theme calls us to nationally embrace and respect First Nation’s culture and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s heritage, and continue to seek greater protections for cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language and by acknowledging heritage and values we can aim for significant and lasting change.

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Western Australia has had a long history of involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and we continue this journey though the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).  Endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, once released the plan aims to guide us to lay the foundations from which we can develop stronger relationships, deeper understanding and new opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations.

As part of NAIDOC week we are celebrating the wonderful work of Yilka artist Rosie Paine who was commissioned to produce artwork for the new Vinnies Support Centre in Joondalup and RAP Plan. Rosie originally comes from Cosmo Newberry, an aboriginal community in the north eastern Goldfields, and upon completion of the canvas, revealed her connection with Vinnies started when she was a teenager.

Rosie Paine is a Western Australian Noongar/Yamatji/Wongutha woman and Yilka artist

“My connection with Vinnies W.A goes back to my late teens when I first moved to Perth to begin my studies to become a teacher. Growing up in the northern Goldfields town of Laverton and the remote Aboriginal community of Cosmo Newberry my family moved with me to Perth to help support me as I began my studies. In our first few months of being in Perth, our family struggled financially. We were unable to furnish our newly rented house, put three meals on the table and purchase other items such as clothing etc. Support from Vinnies WA allowed us to access affordable furniture (in some cases free), affordable clothing and food. Through the support of Vinnies WA we were able to find our feet allowing me to continue my studies as a primary school teacher.”

The three large circles in the image represent areas of the Reconciliation Action Plan, and connected by blues lines which at its centre represents Lake Joondalup. This is a significant area to Noongar people as great feasts took place on its banks, as well as be an important hunting ground for water birds and turtles. The U shapes are people working together towards reconciliation, with the whole image an Acknowledgement of Country to the land where the Vinnies Support Centre sits on in Joondalup.

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for us to celebrate the rich history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as learn and advocate for all Australians to have the equality and achieve their full potential.

For more information visit NAIDOC Week 2021