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NAIDOC Week Statement from ANZSOG Dean and CEO Caron Beaton-Wells

8 July 2024

News and media


This year’s NAIDOC Week will again celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with the theme of “Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud”. 

ANZSOG acknowledges the importance of NAIDOC Week as a celebration which honours First Nations peoples and reminds us of the importance of our own journey to become a culturally competent organisation, making a positive contribution to First Nations policy and public administration. 

Held across Australia from 7-14 July 2024, this year’s NAIDOC Week recognises the enduring strength and vitality of First Nations culture – with fire as a symbol of connection to Country, to each other, and to the rich tapestry of traditions that define Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

The NAIDOC organising committee says:  

The fire represents the enduring strength and vitality of Indigenous cultures, passed down through generations despite the challenges faced. It is a symbol of connection to the land, to each other, and to the rich tapestry of traditions that define Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As we honour this flame, we kindle the sparks of pride and unity, igniting a renewed commitment to acknowledging, preserving, and sharing the cultural heritage that enriches our nation. 

Through our collective efforts, we can forge a future where the stories, traditions, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are cherished and celebrated, enriching the fabric of the nation with the oldest living culture in the world. 

At ANZSOG we are helping maintain that strength and vitality by working to support public service institutions in embedding First Nations perspectives, knowledges and culture into their work, and have First Nations representation at all levels.  

Despite the defeat of The Voice referendum, there is still a mood for change in First Nations policy with a new emphasis on building genuine partnerships and shifting towards co-design and co-management of programs. In addition, moves towards Treaty and truth-telling are continuing in State and Territories. 

At ANZSOG we understand that public services want and need to improve their understanding of First Nations and are developing programs that help public services to build their capability in this area.  

Our Working with First Nations: Delivering on the Priority Reforms program was first delivered in October last year – and provides an introduction for public sector leaders seeking a stronger understanding of the new landscape introduced by the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Demand for and feedback from the first iteration was so strong we are offering it twice again in 2024. 

In addition, we have partnered with Charles Darwin University (CDU) to develop a new Policy Frameworks and First Nations Relations microcredential. This program is accredited by CDU as part of a broader suite of First Nations public administration microcredentials that ANZSOG is developing with the university.   

This microcredential provides the opportunity for current and aspiring public sector leaders to go deeper and improve their ability to design and implement relationships-based policy by viewing Australia through a different lens and building their knowledge of First Nations history and culture. 

Our First Nations public administration conferences are unique fora that bring together public servants, academics and First Nations community leaders to discuss issues, cultivate networks and listen to First Nations voices. Our most recent conference, in Meanjin Brisbane in March 2023, brought together over 900 people and the next conference is planned for 2025. 

This is in addition to our inclusion of First Nations perspectives and knowledges into all our Executive Leadership Programs, as an essential part of the knowledge and capability required by public sector leaders. 

It is an exciting time for us to be doing this meaningful and effective work in First Nations policy and helping public services to understand the strengths of First Nations communities and culture. 

In NAIDOC week, and throughout the year, ANZSOG stands with the First Nations of Australia and supports their aspirations for a just and equitable relationship with non-Indigenous Australians, and for control over their own lives. Despite the progress we have made, there are still many structural and cultural changes that need to happen within public services to make this a reality, and I am proud that ANZSOG is working to help make those changes happen.