You must Know Your Country to Heal Country – more than half Australians agree
July 7, 2021 - More than half of Australians (57 per cent) agree learning more about First Nations history, peoples and culture will help heal Country- the theme for NAIDOC week 2021, new research released today has shown.
The research, commissioned by the Know Your Country campaign, confirms many Australians would like to know more about First Nations peoples and culture and understand that knowledge is part of healing, World Vision First Nations Policy Advisor and Wiradjuri man Dr Scott Winch said.
“The 2021 NAIDOC theme Heal Country, Heal Our Nations calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage,” Dr Winch said.
“Country is all-encompassing and includes land, waters and sky and all that exists within these spaces –including us humans. Country has been in pain for years from pollution, resource extraction, drying waterways, damage to oceans and the air which we breath, and the desecration of the traditional sites which are a vital part of Country. The Country must be healed, and this will heal First Nations people and Australia as a nation.
“The Know Your Country campaign calls for learning more about First Nations through the education system where a First Nations Cultural Educator in every primary school can assist teachers to protect, maintain and share our culture, history and perspectives. This will provide all Australian children a great understanding of Country and their role as custodians.”
If children had the opportunity to learn more about First Nations culture, this would create a shared understanding and a deeper respect within Australian society. Sacred sites would inevitably be better protected and prioritised, Dr Winch said.
“First Nations cultural educators can enrich and resource the education system with the direct wisdom of First Nations communities. Learning local dreaming stories of creation is a beautiful way for children to engage in the longest continuing living culture in the world. This would be a gift to all Australian students,” Dr Winch said.
“If we pay attention to that wisdom, we can build a more sustainable world for future generations. The knowledge of Indigenous people around the globe is now vital to provide the leadership, knowledge and practices to address the urgent needs created by climate change. This includes understanding local plants and a nuanced, non-European understanding of weather patterns and cycles.”
Dr Winch said that the resource of cultural educators in schools would improve the social and cultural determinants of health and wellbeing for First Nations children which was fundamental to closing the gaps.
In addition, the wisdom of this ancient culture could benefit the wellbeing of all Australian children.
“Children can learn the traditional practice of Dadirri, which is being present in nature and connecting. This practice supports mental health through mindfulness. An appreciation of nature and connecting to place will only serve to encourage children to be more engaged in outdoor activities in nature. This creates a healthier nation of children which they can hold as a lifestyle throughout their lives.”
For more information, Know Your Country campaign media officer, Leah Swann 0421 857 591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Know Your Country is a national coalition campaign led by a First Nations Advisory Panel and convened by World Vision Australia.
To learn more visit: www.knowyourcountry.com.au
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