Aboriginal people in the Byron Shire come together to acknowledge several significant important days and special events throughout the year.
NAIDOC Week celebrates the survival of Indigenous culture and the Indigenous contribution to modern Australia. NAIDOC Week celebrations for 2011 will be held from 3 -10 July, with this year's theme being 'Change: the next step is ours'.
Byron Shire Council is proud to support NAIDOC Week 2011 and invites the community to attend a Flag Raising Ceremony on Monday 4 July outside the Council Chambers in Station Street, Mullumbimby, commencing at 10.00 am. The program will include a Welcome to Country address by a Byron Bay Bundjalung (Arakwal) representative, and conclude with morning tea.
Further information about NAIDOC Week is available on the NAIDOC website.
The National Sorry Day Committee was established in 1998 and has been incorporated since January 2001. From the beginning, the NSDC has worked with the commitment, dedication and involvement of both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians.
National Sorry Day is commemorated on May 26 each year to acknowledge the Stolen Generations. Celebrations in 2008 marked the 10th Anniversary of the "Bringing them Home Report". In addition, Sorry Day 2008 celebrated the monumental act of Acknowledgement and Apology by the new Australian Parliament that took place on 13 February.
Further information is available on the National Sorry Day Committee Inc website.
National Reconciliation Week
Each year National Reconciliation Week celebrates the rich culture and history of the first Australians. It's the ideal time for all of us to join the reconciliation conversation and to think about how we can help turn around the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Further information on reconciliation and upcoming events can be found on Reconciliation Australia's website.
January 26 was nominated as Australia Day to celebrate the anniversary of white settlement. It commemorates the ceremonious unfurling of the British flag at the head of Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, it was also recognised as a day of mourning for the invasion and dispossession of Australia's Aboriginal people.
The 1988 Bicentenary Australia Day celebrations in Sydney were marked by a huge and well-organised gathering and protest march by the Aboriginal community, many of whom had travelled to Sydney from all over the country.
Many Aborigines who took part in the Bicentennial marches felt they would like to have an alternative celebration of how their history and culture had survived. The first Survival concert, held in 1992, reflected a major shift away from the traditionally-named Australia Day to Invasion Day.
Regionally across New South Wales, an increasing number of Aboriginal communities are participating in their local Australia/Survival Day ceremonies and celebrations. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands flags are raised alongside the Australian flag. High profile Aboriginal people take the role of key-note speakers for the Australia Day Council, as well as local Australia Day Committees.
Byron Shire's Aboriginal people are very creative in both contemporary and traditional culture. Within this Shire there are writers, musicians, dancers, film makers, artists and teachers of culture. In addition to traditional custodians of the country, the Aboriginal community has a diverse mix of people from across Australia who choose to live in the Byron Shire because of its unique culture and lifestyle.
The Indigenous Land Use Agreements provide for the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural and heritage areas by the Bundjalung of Byron Bay, eg Arakwal National Park. The traditional owners conduct cultural, eco-tourism and educational programs thus providing an important cross-cultural exchange between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.
The Bundjalung people in the north of the Shire also have a focus on country through bush regeneration and a focus on training programs and employment outcomes. There are also culturally significant programs through many of the Shire's schools that are growing in strength. 'Welcome to Country' is performed at many events held in the Shire.
A traditional basket weaving program has drawn an interest from Bundjalung Aboriginal women in the Shire, and creative products around art, dance and songs are being developed.