Wandarrah kicks off NAIDOC celebrations

THE Wandarrah Street Festival once again proved to be a big highlight of Swan Hill’s NAIDOC Week celebrations, as people braved a downpour to enjoy a fun, family day out on Monday.

Nikyrah Bamblett from Swan Hill was one of 50 children to participate in the NAIDOC Week Welcome Baby to Country ceremony on Monday morning at the Masonic Hall. Nikyrah is pictured getting her certificate from Aunty Stephanie Charles. Picture: PAMELA BLACKMAN

Nikyrah Bamblett from Swan Hill was one of 50 children to participate in the NAIDOC Week Welcome Baby to Country ceremony on Monday morning at the Masonic Hall. Nikyrah is pictured getting her certificate from Aunty Stephanie Charles. Picture: PAMELA BLACKMAN

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is an opportunity for everyone to recognise the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to showcase Australia’s indigenous heritage.

As one of the biggest events on the week’s calendar, the festival featured a huge variety of activities for people to enjoy, including face painting, clothing and craft stalls, rock climbing, jumping castle and cultural activities.

Held at the Swan Hill Rural City Council car park on Beveridge Street, representatives from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) and headspace were also in attendance to hand out information on their services, while the Swan Hill Rotary Club ran a barbecue.

Another popular event of the festival was the Welcome Baby to Country ceremony, which saw more than 50 local children under the age of three participate in a traditional rite of passage.

Earlier, a crowd of more than 100 gathered at Mallee District Aboriginal Services for a hearty barbecue breakfast and to raise the Aboriginal flag.

The community then joined a march through the CBD to recognise the Aboriginal community and showcase the achievements and culture to the wider community.

Historically, marches served a purpose of gaining recognition of Aboriginal rights.

Swan Hill NAIDOC Committee promotions officer Djallarna Hamilton said the Welcome Baby to Country ceremony was incredibly popular with parents when it started last year.

“The parents just love it,” Ms Hamilton said.

“Essentially, it’s a traditional cultural practice that we want to bring back.”

Committee chairperson Nicola Perry said it was great to see so many members for the community come out and support the event.

“Even though it was raining, that didn’t deter people coming out and having a great time,” Ms Perry said.

“It is great to have a lot of support from a number of different community organisations who help us both financially and by contributing to the events themselves.”

She said it was great to see the all the committee’s hard work come together.

“Our committee has put in so much work to organise this year’s event and make it great,” she said.

Raffle tickets are being sold throughout the week at various events, giving people the chance to be in the draw to win a handcrafted Didgeridoo and Clapsticks (first prize), and Boomerang and Boondi (second prize).

All proceeds will go towards supporting next year’s NAIDOC Week, including the Dreamtime Ball.

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