• A young Shelley Ware in hte 1983 NAIDOC Week poster (NAIDOC Week)Source: NAIDOC Week
Shelley Ware shares with us her thoughts and history with NAIDOC Week.
Shelley Ware

5 Jul 2016 - 5:03 PM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2016 - 5:03 PM

NAIDOC week is a beautiful week of the year when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community showcase and celebrate our beautiful culture, history and achievements together. Ever since I can remember my family has enjoyed this week.

Those of you who are reading this and are thinking...What is NAIDOC Week?, I understand. NAIDOC stands for the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It started in the early 1920's and is always celebrated the first week of July. All Australian's are invited to celebrate our culture together.  

This years NAIDOC week theme is Songlines : The living narrative of our nation. 

"For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures.

Dreaming tracks crisscross Australia and trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lores. These dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ as they record the travels of these ancestral spirits who 'sung' the land into life.

Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups.

Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters." (sourced from the NAIDOC website)


When I was a little girl my Dad, Bob Ware was on the 1982 NAIDOC poster where the theme was a 'Race for Life For a Race'. He was a professional runner at the time and one of the fastest men in Australia. He was also a very proud Wirangu Elder who has sadly passed . In his short 50 years on Earth and 30 as my Dad, he taught me the importance of showcasing my culture and the beauty within it. I remember with pride and happiness the day this poster was everywhere for everyone to see, a very proud moment for our family. 

The following year my brother Aaron and I were on the NAIDOC Week poster. The theme was 'Let's talk - we have something to say'. We are sitting with two Aunties who are sharing stories through string which is a way of passing down traditional stories and Songlines to each other. This was an exciting and proud moment for my brother and I, to be able to follow in our father's footsteps was magical to us. I really feel that both of the themes from the NAIDOC posters my family were on are still highly relevant to this day. We still need to talk to each other and listen. You can see all of the past NAIDOC Week posters and learn of other NAIDOC themes on the NAIDOC website.

This week I started my celebrations off by mentoring the young talented Kiera Lamb as she MC'd the Victorian NAIDOC Awards for 2016 on Friday night at the Korin Gamadji Institute. I was asked by the Victorian NAIDOC Committee to pass on my tips that I had learnt through being an MC over the years. We spoke over the phone during the week and then met on the Friday night and ran through what she needed to do to best prepare her for her first MC gig. From all reports she was fantastic and congratulations to all of the winners too. I saw the judges before the night still crying over the amazing commitment and love the winners and other candidates have for their people and community.

On Monday it was a lot of fun to head along to one of my favourite celebrations the VAEAI NAIDOC Movie Day at Northland cinemas. The whole community is invited to participate. You get a movie, popcorn and a drink and everyone has a wonderful time together. If you missed it this year make sure you get along to next years its a lot of fun. The kids and big kids love it!

On Wednesday I will be heading to another family favourite the Collingwood animal farm at 10.30am to film with Marngrook and enjoy the NAIDOC celebrations. My son Taj and I have always gone along to this day as it is so much fun! Every year is different. The children get to see the animals up close for pats and cuddles. Their are hay tractor rides, art activities and lots of yummy food. It's just wonderful place to be together as a community and celebrate NAIDOC Week. Head along...we would love to see you there! Neville Jetta and Jeff Garlett from the Melbourne Football Club will also be there for you to meet, might even get your beautiful face on Marngrook.

Then on Wednesday night I'm off to the Premier's Reception at Parliament House in Melbourne with Aunty Pam Pedersen, this will be my first time so I am looking forward to it. Don't forget NAIDOC celebrations on Marngrook on Thursday night where we will be awarding the NAIDOC, Victorian Sport Award winner on the show. Tune in for that on NITV live at 7.30pm. My busy week continues Friday when I'm flying up to Darwin for the NAIDOC National Ball to celebrate the achievements of some of the pretty amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I cant wait!

One moment in time this NAIDOC Week that I can't wait to see happen is when the Coburg Football club run out in the NAIDOC Week jumper I designed for them. I stayed true to the NAIDOC National theme of Songlines and am thrilled they loved it. I have a very clever graphic artist as a husband Steven who took my quick sketch with Taj's pencil colouring and transformed it into a  graphic ready to print on the jumpers. Thank you Steven.

The symbols I used in the blue area of the jumper are Songlines which are connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's stories whilst showing the sharing of culture and history. The red sash I drew more Songlines around boomerangs to symbolise the strong men of our community. The fact that Coburg Football Club wanted to share in our Songlines and culture this NAIDOC Week is wonderful and I hope other clubs follow in their footsteps.

I'll be showing you guys this jumper on Marngrook on this Thursday night's show...I cant wait to see it! I'll miss the boys running out in it on Saturday as I had already committed with NITV to head to Darwin when this opportunity came about. My husband, Mum and son Taj will be representing the family. Taj is poised to talk to the whole club about the jumper design and toss the coin at the start of the game. He is a wonderfully confident proud young man who is only nine and the thought of talking in front of everyone about Mum's jumper doesn't even phase him, he makes me very proud.  Thank you to the Coburg football club a wonderful opportunity for which I am very grateful.



There are so many activities you can take your family along to. Check out your local council websites and the National NAIDOC website to see what is happening in your area. Their is lots of fun and celebrations to be had together and everyone is welcome. Hope to see you at one! Happy NAIDOC and enjoy celebrating NAIDOC Week together.

Our children are our future so take the time to enjoy and share the beauty of our culture with them and most importantly have fun together this week. Happy NAIDOC Week!



This article was originally published at http://www.shelleyware.com.au/ and is republished here with permission.