Seymour NAIDOC celebration sees strong turnout

Michael Del Monaco sells shirts celebrating Aboriginal culture and Torres Straight Islander at Seymour’s NAIDOC celebration on Thursday.

By Colin MacGillivray

More than 500 people attended Thursday’s NAIDOC celebration in Seymour, the largest crowd in the event’s history.

The NAIDOC event, hosted annually by the Seymour Local Aboriginal Network, LAN, is a chance for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to come together to celebrate the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The celebration was successfully held under COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, winning the Community Event of the Year award from the Mitchell Shire Council.

This year’s event featured more than 30 booths representing groups from across the Seymour community, including health, education, defense, defense and emergency services and local government, as well as native art and culture exhibits, free food, t-shirt printing, skateboarding and live animal shows.

Organizer Brenda Newman said animal interactions had proven popular with children, as had skateboarding and t-shirt printing by youth group Gnarly Neighbours.

She said the organizers received lots of positive feedback and planned to make the event bigger and better next year.

“We had around 250 people in other years and 500 this year, so it was twice as big as usual. It was awesome,” she said.

“People have said they would like to see street walking come back, which we will definitely do next year if we can.

“Animals were the most popular. The kids loved the snakes and the dingo. The ice cream parlor was also very popular.

Ms Newman said state government funding for the event was withdrawn this year, forcing organizers to rely on sponsorship and fundraising.

“It was all of our wonderful sponsors and fundraisers that got us through. FamilyCare paid Gnarly Neighbors, Our Place paid the shed rent,” she said.

Rebecca Welsh opened the event with a nationwide recognition, congratulating everyone on a successful event.

“This annual NAIDOC event is the only event of this scale held in the Mitchell Shire area,” she said.

“We are just a small group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together to make this event happen every year.

Ms Welsh called on community groups to continue supporting the celebration.

“The Seymour LAN normally has funding that supports this event. This year it was announced that there was no more funding attached to this group, so that is going to make it very difficult for us to continue,” she said.

“We will have to be creative. It’s about sitting down and bringing people together who want to be involved in the future of this event.

Liz Franklin, of family support service FamilyCare, said the NAIDOC event was a great way to engage with the local Indigenous community.

“It’s important because we have so many First Nations people in the area who are missing so many things, and being able to bring them together for a great outing and connect them to all the services available is good,” he said. she declared.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to see all these people come and have fun. People may not be aware of all the services that are in the area, so giving them the opportunity to talk to them is worthwhile. »

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