NAIDOC Week 2010

Happy NAIDOC week everyone and I hope you are all set for a big week. It is a nice time in the year in which we celebrate all that is great about being the descendants of the very first Australians. Notwithstanding it is important that we celebrate being Aboriginal every day. It is also great that so many more other Australians are starting to appreciate the richness of our heritage which is some ways paves the way for them to embrace it as part of their own. This is an important step for Australia.

Given this year’s theme I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some unsung heroes of mine. On a global scale I guess I am like most people in admiring the unfathomable strength and resilience of Nelson Mandela. Here is a man who had every right to feel a victim, and harbour a volcanic sense of hatred, yet despite the extraordinary challenges he faced, he emerged humble, forgiving and an incredulous sense of love and decency for his fellow man. The great Cassius Clay (Muhamad Ali) is one also to be admired, not only for his boxing prowess; there were other things to admire about him as well. Most notably that he played his part in enabling black people all over the world to feel great about being black in a time when many with power implied it was something to be ashamed of. While I had no particular stand on the Vietnam War I admired the fact that he stood by his principles.

In Australia I have always admired the statesman like decency and diplomacy of Pat Dodson. I have also appreciated the shrewd and insightful intellect of Michael Mansell. At a different level I have admired and looked up to the courage shown by people like Gary Foley and Lex Wotton.

In education circles it is worth honouring the efforts of people like Paul Hughes, Peter Buckskin, Steven Alberts, Marcia Langton, Linda Burney and the late John Budby and Mick Miller. These and other people in their circles laid the platform upon which people like me could stand and build solid careers. It is also worth mentioning the efforts of all of those Aboriginal teacher aides and counsellors working tirelessly in schools with pretty lousy pay and conditions, yet still hanging in there in order to get young black kids through school and into a brighter future.

More locally I have been fortunate to have such a strong Aboriginal mother, and hardworking Italian father, who made us work hard, get through school, and be proud of where we come from.

I hope this week we all take time out to celebrate that something special about being Aboriginal, or being Torres Strait Islander; descendants of the very first Australians. For others I hope you take time out also to celebrate that you walk amongst the descendants of the oldest living culture in the world.


2 Responses

  1. Dear Mr. Sarra,
    I first learned of your work last weekend via the story in Qweekend. I retired in 2008 and did a TESOL course. I had a teaching job in Vietnam last year and am about to go back for another six months teaching English.
    My workbackground has been in Sales & Marketing, Industrial Products. I feel I could be of assistance helping Aboriginal students is some way. I realise that teaching qualifications are needed to teach in Australia, however I would like to find out if there is a place for me, as perhaps a Teachers Aide.
    A point in the right direction will be appreciated.

    Kind Regards
    Ron McConnell

  2. Leo.. It has been a long time since your post re. Mr Budby.. It seems it is the same gentleman we refer to.. cs

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