In this article, Jessica, an Ability Options Practice Manager in Disability Services, speaks on the importance of First Nations Elders in our communities, the many roles they play, and how her experiences with them have impacted her life.

Being an Aboriginal woman is more than how I identify; our culture is the third oldest living culture in the world and is an educational journey for me to preserve our heritage for our future generations and country.  

NAIDOC Week is important to me as it’s an opportunity for our mob to celebrate our achievements, resilience and our culture while acknowledging the path that our Elders created for us through their strengths and voice.  

Celebrating NAIDOC isn’t just for me and my family. The beautiful thing is that NAIDOC has become a national celebration for all Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people to come together and learn about key Aboriginal issues, culture, and achievements together. 

Our schools are now celebrating NAIDOC and our events have become public. This raises great awareness and conversations that we once didn’t have as a nation.  

I am proud to identify as Aboriginal, as we were the original teachers, scientist, farmers, “lore” (the Aboriginal spelling) enforcement, chefs and so on in Australia. My culture is beautiful, rich, resilient and one we are all responsible to embrace and acknowledge.

This year’s NAIDOC theme is “For our Elders”, which is one that sits so closely to me. In my family, I am blessed to have a number of Elders who have helped guide me and my children over the years. 

They have instilled a number of foundations in which I base my own personal values and beliefs on. 

It is these foundations that I use every day in my role at Ability Options and have shaped me to be the person I am today. I thank our Elders for the life they have created for us, the sacrifices they have made and all that they have endured to ensure we live the blessed life that we live. 

While much of Australia still has a long way to go in fully embracing Indigenous history and identity, I am proud to be part of the change and to see this event grow each and every day. 

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