At Koala we reckon that no matter who you love, where you come from or what you believe in, you deserve to feel comfortable living in Australia. As a vibrant, multicultural country, we are lucky to be home to the oldest, continuous civilisation on the planet.
This year’s NAIDOC Week’s theme is Always Was, Always Will Be. It acknowledges that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years. Their inextricable connection to the natural world makes our indigenous communities the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. To celebrate this year, all Australia is being encouraged to Acknowledge Country and communities.
Together with Common Ground, an organisation that records and shares First Nation cultures, histories and lived experiences, we are supporting permanent change by helping Australians experience the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Vivid stories allow us the opportunity to help bridge gaps in knowledge and help unite Australia.
Globally, koalas are iconic and widely adored, but locally here at home they play a pivotal role in indigenous stories, and the prospect of their extinction has both ecological and cultural repercussions. Besides saving our furry friends from extinction, Dreamtime stories about koalas have been passed down for tens and thousands of years, and it’s our duty to bring these stories to the world.
What’s the significance of koalas to Indigenous communities?
The ‘Dreaming’, or the ‘Dreamtime’, is an oral history of the world and its creation, shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Dreaming stories are both complex belief systems and methods for carrying deep knowledge. Passed down through generations, these stories help create a moral code for activity across Country.
At the heart of these stories are characters and animals, such as the koala, and we recognise the importance these creatures play in maintaining balance and aiding the survival of First Nations communities.
For First Nations communities, the relationship between animals and people is diverse and changes between communities and Nations. Each First Nations individual has a unique and spiritual relationship with animals across their Country, and hold storylines that underpin environmental connection and ensure balance is kept from one generation to the next. The spirit of the koala continues to be connected and living with us today, with sacred sites across Country providing tangible evidence of their continual presence and the continued balance between people and the natural environment.
We invite you to join us in celebrating NAIDOC week 2020.
“An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is an opportunity to acknowledge and pay respect to First Nations people. They are the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land. Acknowledgements are often made at the commencement of an event or gathering, such as a meeting, speech, celebration or formal occasion. An acknowledgement can be made by anybody—Indigenous or non-Indigenous.” — Common Ground
Acknowledgement can be spoken, written, signed or communicated in other ways:
‘I/We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.’
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced significant exclusion from Australian society since colonisation. Also, many non-Indigenous Australians have not had the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the rich cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This has contributed to the disparity between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians that persists today.
Acknowledging First Nations people at the start of a gathering is a small way to respect the Traditional Owners of Country. It is a sign of respect to First Nations people and cultures. It is also a great way to promote awareness of First Nations cultures and issues amongst wider groups of people. Increasing awareness will help us build a more united Australia, that celebrates and embraces our First Australians.
Learn directly from Common Ground why acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the country is so important here.
Working with Common Ground
Together, Koala and Common Ground want to work collaboratively to support Indigenous communities. Through creativity, kindness, connection and continuity—we’ll drive conversation about our home, as a state of mind and as Australia and its communities.
Together, we want to protect our country through conservation education, celebrate Australia and forging our identity, offering our support to First Nations people by providing opportunities to educate on culture, history and lived experiences, telling stories and amplifying voices to support First Nations storytellers, artists, and more.
At Koala we believe in improving habitats, inside and outside of your home. We do this through donations to wildlife conservation or by minimising consumption by creating simple, well-made products that are built to last and have a reduced environmental footprint. We aim to make the way you live, better.