Keep the Fire Burning by celebrating our First Australian partners this NAIDOC Week

Kicking off this Sunday with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, NAIDOC Week holds a special place in the Australian calendar. It is a time to celebrate First Australian cultures, their achievements, contributions, and varied cultures – in all their strength, resilience, and beauty. 

At Caritas Australia we are lucky to have six First Australian partners, all bringing something unique to the people they serve. 

We are proud to have a partner focussed on the arts – something that is synonymous with First Australian culture, with the creative outputs of Australia’s indigenous community recognisable world-wide. Our Northern Territory-based partner, Djilpin Arts, is an art centre and social enterprise, established by the celebrated actor, musician and beloved community member, the late Balang T. E. Lewis. The centre provides employment, training, income, cultural healing, and intergenerational connection for First Australians. 

There is also great recognition of the enduring relationship between our First Australian peoples and the natural world, which is reflected by the work of The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation. This partner enables Traditional Owners and non-Aboriginal carbon farmers to earn income through the ethical trade of carbon credits produced by programs that use traditional knowledge and land management. Its credits are unique because they demonstrate organisations investing in environmental, social, and cultural core-benefits.   

Another of our partnerships recognises that the youngest and fastest growing demographic of Catholics in Australia is among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We are honoured to work so closely with the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), the peak advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on issues relating to this 130,000-person strong community. 

Three of our partners also focus on providing culturally safe support to those in need. The Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation does this through homework and Mums and Bubs clubs, as well as youth counselling and government support for one of Australia’s largest First Australian populations in Western Sydney. Meanwhile, Grassroots Action Palmerston provides at risk young people in Palmerston with employment via local partners, alongside cultural security through wrap-around mentoring support and activities.  

Another has a specific focus on Stolen Generation survivors. Founded by survivors, The Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC), is focused on healing programs to restore and reconstruct the identity, dignity, and integrity of those impacted. 

At Caritas Australia we are committed to supporting programs in Australia that are designed and led by First Australians. We believe in subsidiarity: that the people best placed to make decisions are those who will be most affected by them.  

We are immensely grateful to those who support our First Australian programs with generous donations. Doing so contributes to the upholding of the rights of First Australians to decide for themselves, while supporting both intergenerational healing and the strengthening of cultural identity.