A message from our Board Director, Leitha Assan
Ngay Gud Woeydhin Nithumun Ika for this NAIDOC.
(I would like to send you all greetings).
My name is Leitha Assan. I’m a proud Badu woman from Thursday Island and also very proud to be the Community Member on the ILF Board. Every July, I celebrate NAIDOC Week with much enthusiasm and great pride, and this year will be no different. In 2019, the NAIDOC Week theme is “Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together” - which seems particularly apt.
The first three words of this theme are from the “Uluru Statement of the Heart”, made in 2017, so may be familiar to you. They are important words to dwell upon, nearly 20 years into the 21st century, as Indigenous people across Australia continue to make our voices heard, and as we strive for the revitalisation of our traditional languages, the acknowledgement of our shared histories, and the maintenance of our connections to culture and country.
But in many ways it is the second part of the 2019 NAIDOC Week theme that holds special significance for me, particularly in my role with ILF. “Let’s work together” brings to mind the important – and ongoing – collaborative work ILF does in close consultation with so many remote Indigenous communities. This is at the core of why I was thrilled to be invited, back in 2018, to become involved in this Foundation.
I spent some years away from Thursday Island, but since coming back over a decade ago, I’ve tried to contribute meaningfully to the lives of my fellow Torres Strait Islander families. In the course of my job at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, I frequently visit other islands in the Strait – which is a great chance to hear about the various communities’ priorities. For many, ILF's programs ensure our traditional languages are not lost – along with increased opportunities for our children to develop those oh-so-critical literacy skills.
In 2019, our Indigenous languages and voices are being heard more widely across Australia than ever before. More and more people, often from very disparate places, worlds apart, are working together, alongside each other, towards the achievement of common aims.
There’s a spirit of true cooperation, of a united purpose, underpinning an exciting, shared vision for our nation’s future. That this spirit flourishes and grows is my hope – my dream, if you like. And I hope it is yours too, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians continue to move forward together.
Happy 2019 NAIDOC Week to each and every one of you!
(A very big thank you)
ILF Board Director