Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR 0607- NAIDOC Week 2006: A Celebratio of Australia's Indigenous Heritage


Filipinos will get a glimpse into Australia’s Indigenous heritage this July as the Australian Embassy Manila celebrates NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week with dance performances by Indigenous Australians Gina Reuben and Alinta Wood of the NAISDA dance college, Australia’s national indigenous dance training institution. Performances will be held at The Podium on Thursday, 6 July at 6:30 pm; the Mall of Asia Music Hall on 7 July at 8pm together with Pinikpikan; the Museo Pambata at 2pm, and Shangri-la Plaza Mall at 6pm on Saturday 8 July.

Gina and Alinta will celebrate their rich and unique heritage with traditional dance from Badu Island in the Torres Strait and Yirrkala in Australia’s North East Arhnem Land, as well as perform contemporary Indigenous dance, which features strongly at NAISDA. Both artists are Diploma students at the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA), Australia’s national indigenous dance training institution funded as a “Centre of Excellence” through the Australian Government’s Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

Joining the Australian Embassy in its NAIDOC Week celebrations are Cathay Pacific, Renaissance Makati City Hotel, Cebu Pacific, Florabel, ETC, 2nd Avenue, NU107, Jam 88.3 and Wave 89.1.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week’, the committee once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week, its acronym has become the name of the week itself. The week had its origins in the fight for Aboriginal rights that began to gather pace in the 1920s and 1930s, when various organizations were established to draw attention to the conditions of Australia’s Indigenous people.

The week has since become a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians together. “Respect the past – Believe in the Future” is this year’s theme; while Cairns in Queensland is its national focus city. The theme promotes looking to the future with optimism, believing in young Indigenous people and recognising the need to harness their capabilities.

The Australian Government continues to be the major funding contributor to NAIDOC Week and through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NAIDOC Week is commemorated with a range of activities throughout its global network, including a ceremony involving the raising of the Australian national, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in Canberra.

In the Philippines, the Australian Government has also been a committed partner in helping to promote the culture and heritage of the indigenous people in Mindanao through the Institute for Indigenous Peoples Education (IIPE). With a P1.7 million funding assistance by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), through the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) Project, the IIPE initiative in Davao was established in response to the educational needs of the indigenous people's children and youth.

As a centre for the promotion of IP (indigenous peoples) culture, IIPE has developed a curriculum for public and private schools that emphasises a culturally-sensitive indigenous education attuned to, and in harmony with Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. There are more than twenty IP pilot schools in Region XI implementing the curriculum and the numbers continue to rise. These schools have successfully set up IP learning centres that highlight information on prominent indigenous groups such as the Mandaya, Ata Manobo, Matigsalog, Tagakaolo, Manguangan, Bagobo, Mansaka, Isama and B'laan.

This July, the IIPE will hold the induction and training of IIPE’s second batch of teachers from twenty schools in Davao to undergo training for its Indigenous Peoples (IP) curriculum. Australian Ambassador Tony Hely lauded the efforts of the IIPE, "as we celebrate Australia’s indigenous heritage this July through our NAIDOC Week activities, it also gives us a chance to celebrate the growing successes of the IIPE in promoting Mindanao’s rich and unique indigenous heritage”.