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Lowitja Institute statement for 2020 NAIDOC Week

Lowitja Institute is proud to support and celebrate national NAIDOC week from 8-15 November 2020 and its 2020 theme: Always Was, Always Will Be.

We wish the very best to organisers and communities across Australia who are celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — albeit in different ways this year as we seek to keep each other safe from COVID-19.

Our CEO Dr Janine Mohamed will be speaking at a range of NAIDOC Week events, driving home the importance of sovereignty, historical truth-telling, activism, and the cultural determinants of our health.

NAIDOC Week will also mark for us the launch of the Lowitja Live podcast and video series exploring Lowitja Institute and all things in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

Our inaugural Lowitja Live, to be broadcast on Wednesday 11 November from Canberra on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, will feature Pat Anderson AO, Lowitja Institute Chairperson and 2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year, and Professor Ian Anderson AO, ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

This year’s NAIDOC theme ­— Always Was, Always Will Be — is a statement, a song and a chant, a cry of pride and truth that resonates for us all. 

It has echoed in our hearts and minds and on the streets of this nation through generations of courageous activism. And it will continue to do so until we are sovereign, until our denied history is acknowledged through the strength of those who have gone before us and our allies who go with us.

Always Was, Always Will Be reminds us too of the importance of culture as a protective factor for our health, and that historical truth-telling can be a powerful health intervention. 

For millennia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have held a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the multiple realms of mental, physical, cultural, environmental, and spiritual health and wellbeing.

But the link between culture, health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been under-researched and often regarded in Western research as ‘intangible’.

Lowitja Institute is leading work with the Federal Department of Health on ways to connect existing knowledge on the cultural determinants of health with policy makers and influencers, through a variety of frameworks, policies and practices.

Pat Anderson has also played a critical role in re-starting the national conversation on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and we commend the recent three-part seminar series she has been involved with, hosted by UNSW Indigenous Law Centre — on Voice, Treaty, Truth. It is available online HERE.