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Celebrating Indigenous elders' teaching legacy

Bond University Elder Uncle John Graham and Provost Keitha Dunstan (front) gather with members of the Indigenous and wider Bond University community at the launch of NAIDOC Week.

Indigenous elders were the first teachers long before universities existed, a ceremony to mark the launch of NAIDOC Week at Bond University was told.

The theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week is ‘for our elders’ and Bond University Provost Keitha Dunstan noted the traditional and ongoing role of aunties and uncles in education.

“In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the elders are basically the foundation of everything in our lives and in our communities,” said Professor Dunstan, a Mandandanji woman.

NAIDOC Week 2023

“It is the elders who have the knowledge, they have the language, they are the teachers.

“So long before any university ever existed anywhere in the world, there were elders sitting out under trees, and in yarning circles, teaching the young and continuing the traditions.”

Bond University Elder Uncle John Graham urged people to think about reconciliation year-round, not just during NAIDOC Week.

Wiradjuri man Mark Williams performs on the didgeridoo.

“Reconciliation is about going through the whole year thinking about what we can do in partnership with First Nations people,” said Mr Graham, of the Gold Coast’s Kombumerri people.

“Be mindful of how we go ahead to the future because we've got an endless opportunity to come together as one, which is what I've been saying for a long, long time.”

NAIDOC Week at Bond University began with a Welcome to Country and flag-raising ceremony featuring a didgeridoo performance by Wiradjuri man Mark Williams.

Other events planned for the week include an emu and kangaroo sausage sizzle featuring Bundjalung rugby league star and Bond University student Ryan James, and a speak-up forum with two of southern Queensland’s most influential Aboriginal elders, Aunty Mary Graham and Aunty Ruth Hegarty.

Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford said Bond University had recently completed its second Reconciliation Action Plam, Innovate.

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