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Bulldogs and Young Academics come together to celebrate NAIDOC Week

The Bulldogs have come together with Young Academics to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year, to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Each year has a unique theme for the week, and in 2024 the theme is, Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud.

A familiar face to the Bulldogs, Indigenous Elder Uncle John was invited by the Club to attend a local Young Academics Early Learning Centre and conduct a Welcome to Country and traditional smoking ceremony to expose the students to Indigenous culture.

Children at the Young Academics Centre participated in various activities to celebrate and enhance their understanding of First Nations culture under the supervision of Uncle John. The activities included exploring symbols, completing a connecting with land exploration table, and taking part in Indigenous focused arts and crafts through a family/community hand collage.

Young Academics have a strong focus on providing learning environments that are dynamic and inclusive, working closely with local communities to support children and families in all their early education needs.

The Bulldogs and Young Academics both recognise the importance of ensuring that the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is taught from a young age and students learn to understand Indigenous groups cultures, lores and traditions from local Elders such as Uncle John.

“People can educate themselves by engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and with that engagement, you’re learning about their stories and how things came to be. This helps us to come together and stay together by understanding each other’s stories," said Uncle John.

It’s very important to educate from a young age and one of the paramount beliefs is to respect your Elders. By respecting the Elders, you’re also respecting the culture, and by teaching the young to respect the culture, you’re also respecting everyone in the community.

Young Academics Early Learning Centres Group Operations Manager added: "Hosting a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country at our Westmead Centre for NAIDOC Week provided an important opportunity for children to experience and learn of Indigenous culture from a young age. These ceremonies not only honour the traditional custodians of the land but also provide a profound and tangible connection to Indigenous heritage, fostering respect and understanding that will stay with them throughout their lives.

"It is crucial for children to learn about Indigenous heritage from an early age as it fosters a deep sense of respect, understanding, and appreciation for the rich cultural diversity that shapes our nation and our Young Academics Centres. By integrating Indigenous knowledge and traditions into their early education, we help build a foundation of inclusivity and awareness that will guide them throughout their lives."

Bulldogs General Manager of Stakeholder Engagement Diane Langmack OAM said: “Multicultural Australia is a key pillar of our Community Program and there is a shared commitment between ourselves and Young Academics to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and ensure that future generations are educated on its importance.”

The NAIDOC Week celebration shows both organization's commitment to reconciliation whilst promoting cultural awareness and understanding.

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.