NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders

2 min read

NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders

NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders

By Dr Sarah Jones

Acknowledging and honouring NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn more about First Nations cultures and histories, and to celebrate one of the oldest continuous living cultures on earth.  

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is For Our Elders; a chance to recognise and celebrate traditions, histories, and stories that have been passed down through the ages and continue to live with and all around us in the rich tapestries of our beautiful country.  These make up our homes, schools, workplaces, playgrounds, languages, stories, music, and peoples.  

We take to heart what the NAIDOC Committee beautifully articulate, that across the generations, Elders “guide…and pave the way for us to take the paths we can take today […]. We draw strength from their knowledge and experience, in everything from land management, cultural knowledge to justice and human rights, across multiple sectors like health, education, the arts, politics and everything in between.”  

In so doing, we seek to partner with Elders and their communities so that we can embed their deep learnings in our educational programs, learn from their storytelling, and be guided and improved by their leadership, scholarship, knowledge and practice.  

At SSE, we know that all people thrive and succeed when they are empowered, connected, and given the opportunity to see what they can become. It’s why we believe that it takes a village to raise an entrepreneur, and that ‘you can’t be what you don’t see’; and it’s why we prioritise a culture of innovation, ambitious goal-setting, and continuous improvement to ensure that collectively, we can create the best experience and nurture new skills to transform lives, uplift communities, and nurture the art of the impossible.  

Vitally, we practice what we believe: that First Nations peoples are our partners and leaders in everything we do when working in their communities, that is, there is “nothing about us - without us.”  

Take, for example, the improvements we introduced into our Signature Program Invest In Yourself: Exploring Money & Self Employment by working closely with local Aboriginal Elders and community leaders in Tamworth, regional NSW.  

Our experience working with the students and with local entrepreneur Kayleb Waters-Sampson have enriched and improved every element of our design, delivery, and approach. It was our great privilege and honour to be welcomed by and partner with amazing talent and cultural warriors like the deadly Marc Sutherland. And we are improved and transformed by the partnership and continue to build on these learnings as we partner with other Aboriginal communities across NSW and Australia.  

NAIDOC Week is a chance to acknowledge and recognise this country’s Elders as historical and cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, leaders, pioneers, nurturers, entrepreneurs, and story-tellers, protecting and imparting more than 65,000 years of continuous culture that has forged our shared identity and sets Australia apart from anywhere else in the world.  

As we work to build a nationwide culture of entrepreneurialism and shared prosperity, we commit to our Elders that we will engage with you and draw from your knowledge and experience across sectors, geographies, and sustainability goals, and honour that commitment in our Acknowledgement of Country: 

SSE acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the beautiful lands and waterways of Australia and the oldest continuing culture in the world. We commit to learning from Elders past and present—as the original storytellers, innovators, and place-makers and together, celebrate the traditional sovereignty of these lands, which has never been ceded.