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NAIDOC Week

6/08/2014

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.  This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Whilst recognised nationally from 6-13th July, Harristown State High School traditionally celebrates NAIDOC in Week 3 of Term 3.​

Flag Raising Ceremony

Invited guests, including local elders, politicians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across various walks of life who are role models for today’s youth participated in the opening of NAIDOC week. The House Totems, created by the Year 11 and 12 Multi-Arts students, were unveiled and many Indigenous students were involved in the day, participating in a day of cultural sharing. 

NAIDOC Assembly

Assembly was opened with a Didgeridoo performance by Casey from Harristown State School. 

National Anthem: The Ensemble and Rianna

Assembly Leaders: Lachlan and Emity

Welcome to Country: Uncle Darby McCarthy

Mr Green spoke to the National NAIDOC Week them for 2014: Serving Country – Centenary & Beyond.  The theme honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.  As Principal, on behalf of all who are HSHS, he honoured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served and sacrificed their lives alongside fellow Australians in overseas wars and conflicts since the Boer War from 1899–1902, acknowledging that they have received limited recognition in the past as enlistment forms did not enable or require identification of cultural heritage until after 1980​

He highlighted the special bonds of comradeship, quoting Terry Garwood from Forgotten Heroes (Jackamos & Fowell, 1993):

In times of common peril and hardship, men and women discover what they had in common rather than dwell upon their differences. A soldier particularly, understands how thoroughly he depends upon the comrades by his side and at his back. They literally stand guard against death for each other. When the earth explodes and the guns roar, men are levelled. Leadership and courage come to the fore. The colour of a man’s skin becomes utterly irrelevant, at best a stupid diversion in the common struggle for victory, valour and survival.

Mr Green highlighted the words of those who have served country:

I was standing in line in my socks and jocks along with the other National Servicemen who had been called up into the Australian Army waiting for my medical at Murray Bridge. When it was my turn Dr Heddle said, “Do you want to go any further?” I asked, “What do you mean?” He replied, “You are Aboriginal. I can exempt you and you can go home.” I said, “The marble didn’t differentiate, so I will keep going.” Les Kropinyeri, Vietnam Veteran

In the Army in Vietnam we were all part of the green machine. Some of us were light green and some of us were dark green.” Gil Green, Vietnam Veteran 

The Wilsonton State School traditional dance troupe led by William Haupt entertained the assembly with dances of welcome, spear fishing, the crane and the snake.

Guest Speaker Trent Adams from the Gooliburri Health Service spoke about the service of the indigenous peoples and the barriers that have been broken down in his experience over the last 15 years.  He spoke of the need for courage and leadership to be a better people, learning from the past.  Reflecting on his own journey and the loss of a brother, he explained how he became the voice for his family, encouraging students to be proud of their indigenous culture and share that with others. He has continued the work of breaking down barriers at Gooliburri Health Service.  He finished by urging students to enjoy NAIDOC celebrations and be proud of their culture. Harristown State High School thanks him for his words. 

Ms Connor then spoke on behalf of Uncle Jack Knox POW who died at Changi, explaining to students his service.  Her speech was informative and respectful and she has given us permission to reproduce it here. The full text of Ms Connor's speech can be found under Related Links. 

She acknowledged the work of the Year 10 Indigenous Studies class who painted the NAIDOC week banner and, joined by students and Ms Brown, entertained​ with Circle Singing.  

Assembly was closed with the singing of the school song and Casey performing again on Didgeridoo.

We thank all presenters and participants on a wonderful NAIDOC week.