National NAIDOC Week celebrations are being held across Australia this week to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Given Ladder supports many young people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, annually we mark NAIDOC Week by participating in local community-focused activities to learn about First Nationals cultures and histories.

On Tuesday, Ladder programs in Gippsland visited the Waterhole Creek Cultural Trail in Morwell. There are several murals along this 5 kilometre trail created by artist and Gunaikurnai man, Ronald Edwards. These murals paint a rich historic narrative of the Gunaikurnai nation, one of the biggest contemporary Aboriginal populations in Australia. The young people provided very positive feedback from the experience, with one participant sharing “I enjoyed being outside on the walk and learning about different Dreamtime stories and artwork”.

On Wednesday, the group attended a dance workshop hosted by Boolarra Community Development Group. Young people were hesitant to participate at first, however with lots of encouragement, they took part and really enjoyed learning a new skill. At the end of the workshop, one program participant and staff performed their dance to the whole group of 20 people. “I felt awkward and a bit nervous at the start but felt more confident in myself after and proud that pushed past this and still participated in the dance.”

Attending NAIDOC Week activities has been an educational way for the young people in our programs to further learn about the Gunaikurni people, Traidtional Owners of much of Gippsland.