Reflections on NAIDOC with Maddy Norris

We had a chat all things NAIDOC with SBS Project Coordinator Maddy Norris

Words by Maddy Norris, Yuin, Bundjalung and Wiradjuri

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC for me is a celebration of Blak culture, history, and achievements. It’s a time to share and showcase how beautiful and rich our cultures and communities are. It’s also an opportunity for non-First Nations people to learn about our truths and cultures and gain more of a deeper understanding of our shared history in this country. It’s also a time to reflect on and platform voices that might not necessarily always be given the chance.

What does this year’s theme mean to you?

For myself, it’s about continuing the momentum that those who came before us have established. It’s a call to action for everyone to come together and continue the legacy of meaningful change. This year is also the anniversary of the Mabo decision and the anniversary of the Tent Embassy, so honouring those achievements gives us an opportunity to reflect on just how resilient, joyful, and strong we are when we stand together.

How will you be celebrating NAIDOC this year?

I’ll be going to NAIDOC events in Sydney, there’s NAIDOC in the park and some great community organised events near me. Celebrating with friends, family and community and supporting Blak businesses.

What is good allyship and how can non-Indigenous Australians be effective allies both at work and at home?

Good allyship is centred around listening and then building historical acceptance and understanding. I think another thing that’s important in allyship is walking beside- or behind First Nations people, ensuring that this journey of understanding is led by mob. Being a good ally by taking the time to educate yourself on the issues and not relying on First Nations people around you to educate you. Allies need to recognise the cultural load and capacity of First Nations people when we are expected to educate everyone else. Watch or listen to Blak content and engage with Blak stories. There is also an element of putting your money and time where your mouth is by supporting Blak businesses, Blak enterprises and community organisations.

This year’s theme – Get up! Stand up! Show up! – encourages all of us to champion institutional, structural, collaborative, and cooperative change. What changes would you most like to see in 2-3 years’ time?

I’d like to see recognition of sovereignty and meaningful change in the justice system, I don’t want to see any more Blak deaths in custody. I think it’s important to share First Nations perspectives, stories, histories, from communities which instils pride. It’s important that the content we’re sharing with the rest of the nation or on international platforms are coming from our communities directly. We have such a diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, perspectives, and stories. Our job is to work with communities to find those stories and share them. Intergenerational change, role modelling, strength based storytelling, inspiring our young people.

What can people start doing from today to make a difference?

Put on NITV! Find out what NAIDOC events are happening in your area. Start engaging with content made by First Nations academics, artists, musicians- I think that’s a really accessible way to start a journey towards understanding. Support Blak businesses (you can find them through Trading Blak as well as community run organisations and initiatives.

SBS has committed to a number of initiatives designed to recognise the strength that First Nations people, perspectives and experiences can bring to our workplace. What initiatives do you think are going to make the biggest impact?

We recently launched our fifth RAP and our first Elevate level RAP, the highest possible tier. In this RAP we’ve made commitments to strengthen and platform First Nations peoples and perspectives. I think our commitment to engaging more First Nations content makers, productions and projects that are First Nations led and informed will be hugely impactful. Particularly our commitment to creating more content in First languages is really exciting.

What would you like to see the broader business community doing to genuinely champion institutional, structural, collaborative and cooperative change?

Prioritise Blak voices, perspectives and truths. We know what’s best for our communities and we’re well overdue to be trusted with our own futures and self-determination. I’d like to see the broader business community invest resources into community controlled initiatives and organisations across all sectors. The support of initiatives by mob for mob are crucial to championing change.

" We know what’s best for our communities and we’re well overdue to be trusted with our own futures and self-determination"