The past eight months hav been tough for Aboriginal communities within Victoria, particularly for those caught in Melbourne's tough lockdown, but an interstate gift-giving initiative has aimed to bring some joy over NAIDOC Week to those hit hardest.
The NAIDOC Gift Exchange is the brainchild of Gamilaraay woman Natalie Cromb and Gomeroi woman, Alison Whittaker who say “there's a lot of love out there for Melbourne mob from interstate mob”.
Ms Whitakker told NITV News the inspiration for the idea came at the height of the recent controversy on Djab Wurrung Country, a period when it Melbourne lockdown seemed like it would go on forever.
"We wanted to spread some joy with Melbourne mob,” said Ms Whittaker.
Gifters and giftees were matched up through a Blak Secret Santa-style survey that linked-up interstate community members with those located down in Naarm.
There has been a huge community response to the gift exchange, with over 90 people from across the country signing up for the initiative.
Darwin based Barkindji sisters, Brionee and Haidee Noonan, banded their family together and linked up with their sister Jaeleig and four year old nephew Hendrix from Adelaide to step up and give twelve people in Melbourne gifts for NAIDOC Week.
Four year old Hendrix Noonan put crayon to paper and created a very personal gift for the mob in Melbourne.
“One man just missed going to the football with his girls and another woman said she didn’t receive many gifts and was grateful for anything… some of the surveys just brought us to tears,” said Brionee Noonan.
Another gift giver, Gugu Yalanji woman Kerry Klimm described NAIDOC Week as being "like Blak Christmas".
Ms Klimm said one giftee “would love to see something about nature because they haven't been able to get out”.
Ms Klimm said her sister, a nature photographer, gifted a personal nature print that included a short message "to let them know we’re thinking of them”.
“It wasn’t about cost, it was about the spirit of giving and receiving," said Ms Klimm.
“It has brought so much hope and I hope this is something that continues.”