We celebrated NAIDOC Week a little early at Padua College, as it falls during the school holidays.  Liturgies were held at all three campuses, including ceremonies at Rosebud and Tyabb, where the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags were raised for the first time. The focus at Mornington was the Message Stick, brought out with the Gospel.

Our Languages Matter was the theme, which aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, in linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

Some 250 distinct Indigenous language groups were known in the late eighteenth century, while today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass on.

Every human language brings things into being – shaping relationships, influencing the way we see and understand events around us, expressing laws and delivering judgments, making agreements between peoples.  To be mute is not only to be speechless, but it is to be robbed of one way to shape the world. When a people’s language is destroyed they are robbed of one of the ways they have control over their life.

NAIDOC week calls us to imagine what it means for First Peoples to reclaim and relearn their languages.

Ange Virgona
College Faith Formation Leader