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The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country! Calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. The theme recognises that Country is more than a place, it is inherent to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity. Our First Nation has cared for this land for 65,000 years.

“Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.” – The National NAIDOC Committee

We are invited to develop a deeper understanding of Country and its meaning to our First Nation as they call for greater protection of their Country, culture and values. It is also an opportunity to learn together the value and importance this week has for our First Nation people.

“NAIDOC week is really important for me because it showcases our community. All its talents and things it has been able to achieve through sports, education, through professionals, through our little people, through our elders. Most importantly it is a great way to showcase our culture and share our stories.” – Rohan Tobler, from Yidinji country, ARA Indigenous Services.

“NAIDOC to me means keeping culture alive, practicing tradition, and spending time with family. Every NAIDOC week my town gathers together and each tribe sings their songs and performs their dances, we eat traditional foods like dugong and sea turtle.” – Shazade Hayward, Garawa People, ARA Fire.

“NAIDOC – acknowledgment that we must celebrate aboriginal culture and aboriginal people. It’s a chance for everyone to see our culture, our practices and that being aboriginal people, aboriginal workers, aboriginal sports stars, aboriginal friends. It’s a chance for us blackfellas to come together and celebrate being us and everyone’s invited. It’s pretty cool.” – Julian Garlett, Wongi Man, ARA Property Services.

At ARA, this is our opportunity to engage in conversation and develop a deeper understanding of the meaning of Country to our First Nation. The ARA Group looks forward to taking this opportunity to learn more about the First Nations people.

ARA Indigenous Services and the Wiimali Program

ARA Indigenous Services acknowledges the importance of sharing the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures within our business. The ARA Group owns a 49% share in this service and our focus is to collaborate with the community, people and professionals to broaden our understanding and encourage inclusive business practices.

“Embracing Indigenous culture is something I have never seen prior to coming to ARA. It warms my heart to see the love that ARA Group have not only for Aboriginal culture, but it is extremely refreshing and empowering in the education that ARA provides to all of its groups and employees in relation to aboriginal history.” – Mark Hickey, Wurundjeri country, ARA Fire.

In May 2018, ARA Indigenous Services launched the Wiimali program, an employment program that encourages Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples to partner with our ARA Indigenous Services team to utilise our support network and processes.

The word Wiimali originates from the native Gamilaraay language of Australia. It means ‘one to light fire’. The Wiimali program lights the fire toward a successful outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Wiimali is designed to create a smooth operational process for the placement of Indigenous Employees into our workforce and your project, with collaboration, ongoing support and interaction; the program aims to provide suitable personnel appointed to deliver positive results with high retention outcomes.

As a Group, we understand the importance of a strong support mechanism on the job to encourage collaboration, communication and understanding. Ultimately, ensuring that we continue to deliver as a business, as a team and as individuals.

“There is a great sense of community and acceptance. ARA encourages Indigenous people to join the company and gives them the resources to succeed. I feel very proud to work here and I have enjoyed my time here as apart of the team.” – Shazade Hayward, Garawa People, ARA Fire.

Establishing relationships that are built on understanding and commitment, helps us to create meaningful change through inclusion. Building on open and honest communications, we continuously strive to create a solid foundation of outcomes, meeting and exceeding the specific needs of our valued customers, enhancing our business and creating strong and continued contributions towards Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The ARA Group’s ongoing commitment to Reconciliation in Australia.

The ARA Group is trying its best to make a positive difference to eliminate cultural barriers and improve the lives of all First Nations people. We are committed to diligently working to create meaningful engagement with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Lead by Michael O’Loughlin and Suzanne Grech, ARA is committed to a path of Reconciliation in Australia.

We would like to encourage all ARA staff to take part in NAIDOC events for the remainder of the week take opportunity to learn more about the commitments in our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

For more information on NAIDOC Week 2021 click here

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