Item 8.2 - Attachment 1

Renewal of the NAIDOC Celebrations and Events, September 2011





on the





September 2011

















Parramatta City Council undertook a review to consider how NAIDOC events can better be delivered in the future. The review involved:

·     Working with the members of the ATSI Committee and the NAIDOC Planning Sub-Committee so that they have input at various stages in the process and maintain ownership of the planning and change process for the renewal of the NAIDOC celebrations

·     Consulting with the relevant stakeholders to clarify what is valued in current celebrations, identify any opportunities for improvement and/or change and seek ideas and input

·     Researching other NAIDOC and related celebrations

This report includes commentary on the current events and feedback from the consultation process. It also addresses a number of relevant issues that need to be taken into consideration and provides a series of recommendations based on identified opportunities for the future that will deliver better outcomes to the ATSI residents, Parramatta City Council and the broader Parramatta community.



NAIDOC Week Celebrations at Parramatta

While the origins of NAIDOC can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s, today it is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields. These NAIDOC week celebrations are held across Australia each July. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.[1] 

Burramatta Family Day is the major NAIDOC celebration provided by Parramatta City Council. Burramatta Family Day has been celebrated for seven years and for the past three years has been held in Prince Alfred Park and before that in Parramatta Park.

Role of the NAIDOC Planning Committee

The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Advisory Committee has as a sub-committee the NAIDOC Planning Sub-Committee. As with all Council’s advisory committees the role of the ATSI Advisory Committee is ‘to provide advice, input and give feedback “to Council. They are not decisions making bodies.  A specific role of the ATSI Advisory Committee is to:

2.6 To work with Council to develop and promote appropriate celebrations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture including Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week.

The contribution of the ATSI Advisory Committee and the Sub-Committee in relation to NAIDOC week celebrations and in particular the Burramatta Family Day is valued and the members should be commended for their efforts.

In working with council to develop and promote appropriate celebrations the  Advisory Committee needs to play a more strategic role leaving the operational activities to the council officers. Council can assist in this process by clarifying with the Committee the areas where their input will be most valuable.

The Advisory Committee needs to adopt a strategic focus in the provision of its advice to Council and foster NAIDOC celebrations that can meet broader objectives. Council also has a responsibility to ensure that the events it provides are inclusive and accessible to all, well planned, safe, cost effective and targeted towards achieving Council’s overall strategic objectives.



The consultation in relation to NAIDOC celebrations and future directions has been broad and inclusive. It has included face-to face discussions with key stakeholders and in particular the NAIDOC Planning Committee; event survey with facilitated discussions at Burramatta Family Day; and an online survey to broader community promoted through stakeholder networks.


NAIDOC Planning Committee

Discussions were held with this group on three occasions, prior to Burramatta Family Day, immediately after Burramatta Family Day and on September 27th when the draft recommendations were discussed.

At the first consultation with this Committee on 28 June it was agreed that the NAIDOC celebrations renewal process would focus on considering how best to:

·     Celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

·     Educate the whole community on the history and culture of Aboriginal people in the Parramatta area

·     Provide opportunities for the local Indigenous community to celebrate together

·     Encourage the broader community including children to take part

These goals reflected the overall goals of NAIDOC celebrations.



Burramatta Family Day Survey:

A survey was administered by an independent survey organisation at the event. This survey was similar to surveys administered at other major events held in Parramatta. While a copy of the survey and the full results is available on request the key results are as follows.

Of the 163 people (a sufficient sample) who completed the survey:

·     69% lived in Parramatta local government area

·     20% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples

·     10% were aged between 16-25 years and 70% between 26-55 years

·     65% heard about Burramatta by word of mouth or other means; 6% via council’s website; 17% from street banners and 12% from local newspaper

·     52% of those attending were part of a family with children

·     The reasons for attending included: 22%- activities looked interesting; 28%- interested in Indigenous Cultural events; 11% - like to attend local events; 10% -are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people

·     52 % had come to a NAIDOC event previously

·     96% said they would attend Burramatta next year

·     33% walked to the activity



Rated as good or very good





Cleanliness of Area







92 %






Yarn tent:

The Yarn Tent provided an opportunity for facilitated conversations with individuals and groups attending Burramatta Family Day. Twenty five people took part in discussions with the facilitator and they were wide ranging, generally around a number of predetermined themes (See Appendix 1). 

The feedback, also provided in Appendix 1 was extensive with the key messages being:

·     Need for better promotion and publicity

·     Strong interest within the community in knowing more about bush tucker, agricultural practices and the archaeological finds

·     Event needs to be more closely linked with local schools and children especially through art and writing

·     People are generally interested in finding out more about Aboriginal culture and history

·     Need for improved coordination and collaboration around NAIDOCC events with neighbouring councils

Online Survey

An online survey was prepared to elicit feedback from the broader community. Invitations to complete this survey were sent to:

·     730 members of Parramatta Council’s Community Voice research panel

·     Members of the NAIDOC Committee

·     Artists Studios

·     ATSI Committee

·     NSW Aboriginal Land Council

·     Parramatta Koori Interagency

·     Other government and not for profit organisations located in LGA focused on provision of services for Aboriginal community and/or Aboriginal employees.

·     Parramatta City Council’s Staff and their networks.


These committees, the Land Council and the Artists Studio were asked to disseminate the survey through their networks.


The survey was completed by 214 persons and the results showed:

·     11 respondents identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

·     11% had attended Burramatta Day

·     7.4% had attended events at one of the libraries

·     22% had attended NAIDOC celebrations prior to 2011

·     67% said they would attend NAIDOC celebrations in the future

·     51% thought NAIDOC week celebrations should be a significant/major event with 33% thought it should be a moderate event. Only 12% thought it should be a small event.


The respondents were asked to indicate what NAIDOC activities they would prefer to attend in the future.

·     56% - Guided walks to discover Parramatta’s Aboriginal history

·     41% - Burramatta Family day

·     41% - Traditional dance and music displays

·     40% - Hands on sessions focused on bush tucker and agricultural practices

·     38% - Major contemporary event

·     36% - Major event celebrating a significant historical happening

·     35% - Lectures/displays on archaeological finds

·     34% - Art exhibition and community art activities

·     28% - Short creative activities for children

·     22% - Contemporary dance and music activities for children

·     15% - Art and writing competitions/activities for children

·     13% -  Activities based around sport





Significant Aboriginal History

Parramatta has significant Aboriginal history. The Upper Parramatta River Catchment was originally home to the Burramatta clan, part of the Dharug language group who had inhabited the area for more than forty thousand years before British settlement in 1788. Many significant items of Aboriginal cultural heritage can be seen in the catchment, including middens, tree scars, cave paintings and stone flakes.

Parramatta was the location of the second European settlement in Australia. By the end of 1788 there were some initial friendly contacts between the Dharug and the Parramatta settlers around the bartering of food but hostilities that often were instigated by convicts and soldiers, developed and continued until Macquarie's time when he initiated a series of actions which dramatically impacted on the local Aboriginal people.  Parramatta and Government House was the centre of Aboriginal and European interactions until Macquarie’s departure.  In 1814 Macquarie set up the Parramatta Native Institution and this was followed by the introduction of the annual feast (Meeting Place), which continued at Parramatta until the 1830s.

Given the archaeological evidence of long settlement by Aboriginals in the Parramatta area and the fact that it was the centre of Aboriginal and European interactions for a number of years in the early days of the colony Parramatta holds a unique position in the history of Australia.

Parramatta – the CBD of Western Sydney

Parramatta is already recognised as the CBD of Western Sydney[2] which is the third largest economy in Australia. It is home to 160,000 residents, 16,000 businesses and 90,000 employees with an expected increase of 27,000 in jobs over the next 20 years. Parramatta’s influence extends beyond its LGA boundaries and if it is to achieve recognition as the second CBD in NSW it must accept the responsibility to strengthen its cultural attractions. As the emerging centre for Western Sydney it must be prepared to reflect this status.

A number of significant Aboriginal organisations are based in the Parramatta area and these include:

·     Head Office, NSW Aboriginal Land Council (50 employees)

·     Aboriginal Coordination Unit for NSW Police

·     Aboriginal Programs Unit in Department of Justice and Attorney General

·     Aboriginal Housing Office

·     Aboriginal Legal Service

·     Parramatta Koori Interagency

The Aboriginal staff in these organisations form part of the Parramatta City community. There are also a number of other organisations that provide services and programs for the Aboriginal community. 

Comparison with neighbouring councils

Throughout the consultation process there were numerous references to and comparisons with the NAIDOC events run by neighboring councils and in particular Penrith, Blacktown and Campbelltown. However it is probably not appropriate to make such comparisons for a number of reasons including the differing demographic makeup of each LGA and the different nature and overall role of each LGA and Council.

TABLE A: 2006 Census data - Indigenous Persons in Parramatta and neighbouring LGAs


Total Population

% of Indigenous  persons in LGA

Number of Indigenous  persons in LGA

% of Indigenous  persons in Australia























The data in Table A suggests that there are considerable variations in relation to the number of Indigenous persons as identified residing in each LGA as well as overall populations. Penrith, Campbelltown and Blacktown have significant Indigenous populations above the Australian average level (2.3%) and the size of the Indigenous populations reflect the size and nature of the NAIDOC celebrations that they hold.


Burramatta Family Day

In 2011 approximately 2200 people attended this event over the day. There was probably a core group of about 400 attendees with many stopping in for much shorter periods as they walked through the park. This was supported by the increase over previous years in the number who nominated that they walked to the event. The 2011 event included the Flag Raising and Smoking Ceremony on the rotunda which has previously been held at a different time and venue. At the event NAIDOC Committee Certificates were presented to persons as decided by the ATSI Advisory Committee in recognition of their achievements, as well as to the Lord Mayor, members of the ATSI Advisory Committee and Burramatta Family Day stall holders.


A strength of the Burramatta Family Day is that it currently serves as a focal activity for part of the local Indigenous community. The feedback from the survey at the event showed that the Burramatta Family Day was valued by those who attended.

It was also evident that the NAIDOC Planning Sub Committee currently makes a valuable contribution to the planning of the Burramatta Family Day.


At the Burramatta Family Day there were a number of stalls providing information, mainly to Aboriginal visitors that included:

Cumberland Women’s Health Service

Parramatta Centrelink

Your Rights at Work


ATSI Advisory Committee

Reconciliation for Western Sydney

Parramatta Mission

Indigenous Disability Advocacy Services

Community Justice Centre

Community Services

Police & NSW Health

Home Support & Community Services - PCC

University of Western Sydney



Generally these stalls were focused on the provision of information on welfare services which may have addressed the needs of only a limited percentage of those attending.

Inviting organisations with more positive messages would provide greater diversity and alter the dynamic. Organisations such as TAFE, Police, sporting groups such as AFL and NRL and even Services recruitment were invited but some declined.

The feedback from the community showed a strong interest in bush foods so stalls providing information and selling bush food products would add variety and interest. However it must be recognized that these are few and may present difficulties in attracting.

Stalls such as that run by the Reconciliation for Western Sydney had information that appealed to broader groups.

An issue identified through the consultation was the perceived lack of promotion of the activity although the actual promotion was equivalent to that provided for other events. The perception of the lack of promotion perhaps reflected the take up by the various media of the press releases.

There is a recognized branding opportunity for the event; both the library events and Burramatta Family Day are promoted on a single pamphlet. There are opportunities to strengthen and make more consistent the branding of all NAIDOC celebrations. 



Burramatta Family Day - a major event or capacity building

A Strategic Review of Parramatta City Council’s Events program[3] (June 2006) outlined an evaluation framework to objectively determine the most appropriate investment in its event program. This review identified five key objectives for Council’s events programs that were based on Council’s overall aims and the Triple Bottom Line strategic objectives as identified in the twenty25 Strategic Plan.  It is important to note that it is not expected that any one event will meet all of the objectives.

The following table provides an assessment of Burramatta Day against these objectives.



Burramatta Family Day

Engage people to be active in the life of the city

Provides some opportunities to be actively engaged, however take up is small.

Demonstrate and deliver a diversity of life understandings and perspectives

It is part of a national celebration held in July each year


Provides a range of cultural activities giving attendees opportunities to better understand Aboriginal history and culture.


Supports cross-cultural communication by providing opportunities to learn about and experience aspects of Aboriginal culture through direct communication with local Aboriginals. However it is not attracting many new attendees from the broader community.


Celebrate and promote urban form and natural environment through innovative use of place and space

Currently it cannot be said that the event utilises public space in an innovative way. However there are significant opportunities for improvements by using different sites such as banks of the Parramatta River, the archaeological sites and Lake Parramatta to promote different aspects of NAIDOC celebrations.


Encourage local creative enterprise

Members of the ATSI Advisory Committee have opportunities to take an active leadership role in planning and contributing to the day, however involvement is minor.


Boost the local economy – day and night

The event attracted approximately 2200 in 2011 and approximately 69% of these visitors live in the Parramatta LGA. However, apart from the event providers- security, marquees etc  it does not contribute to any great extent to local economy


Another significant responsibility of Parramatta Council is building community capacity and Burramatta Family Day must also be considered in relation to this. Building community capacity refers to the ability of individuals, organisations and communities to manage their own affairs and to work collectively to foster and sustain positive change (Howe and Cleary 2001).  Burramatta Family Day is difficult to categorise as it is neither a major event nor a capacity building opportunity.

NAIDOC Week events at the libraries

Parramatta Council’s Library Services also run events for NAIDOC week in conjunction with the Major Events unit and these events are popular with high attendances (more than 800). They provided children with opportunities to gain greater understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture, have lots of fun all in an indoor environment.

The events run in 2011 included:



No. attending

Parramatta Main library

Monday 4 July

Aboriginal story telling with Walangari and Lesley. Included didgeridoo playing and dancing. Ages 5-12 years



Tuesday 5 July

Boomerang painting workshop with Mirrii Dancers



Wednesday 6 July

Gumnut necklace craft workshop with Mirrii Dancers. Ages 3-14 years- ran sessions in shifts





Continued with Aboriginal stories during second week of school holidays


Branch libraries

Over week

Cultural sessions with Graham Davis King were held in FIVE branch libraries. Included storytelling, didgeridoo playing and painting.

200 (children and adults)




Does Burramatta Family Day meet the key objectives of NAIDOC celebrations?

The overall objective of NAIDOC is to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and provide opportunities to recognise the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.

There were opportunities throughout Burramatta Day to celebrate Aboriginal culture through:

·     Workshops on topics such as didgeridoo; Dreamtime story telling; indigenous face painting; boomerang and rock painting and traditional tree painting. Each workshop appeared to attract a small but interested crowd.

·     Short Didgeridoo performance

·     Contemporary music performances by Aboriginal bands and singers

·     Three stalls selling indigenous products- art works, wood carvings and jewellery

But when considering all the objectives of NAIDOC celebrations it is clear that Burramatta Family Day in its current form is not achieving its full potential.

·     It does not showcase the rich and complex Aboriginal culture and history including contemporary culture.

·     It only attracts relatively small numbers.

·     It has limited appeal to the broader community.

·     It does not reflect a consistent theme.

·     Presents a mixed bag of entertainment, activities and information stalls.

·     Presents workshops focused more on familiar traditional elements of its culture and does little to showcase contemporary cultural practices

In its current form the event cannot be described as a Family Day; all the entertainment was generally focused on the tastes of older adults and there were insufficient activities to interest children and almost nothing to interest adolescents.

Central to the question of whether Burramatta Day meets the objectives of NAIDOC celebrations is the need to clearly identify whom the current event is designed to attract. 

The official NAIDOC brief states that it is to be celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.

With 160,000 residents and 90.000 workers in the Parramatta LGA  it is important to identify the key groups that could be encouraged to take part in activities as this will assist in planning events and activities that best meets the expectations of the whole community. The key target groups would include:

·     Residents who are interested in Aboriginal culture and history

·     Local Indigenous residents and their families

·     Local school children and their parents

·     Locally based Aboriginal organisations and their employees

As Parramatta has 40.3% of its residents born overseas[4] with significant groups from China, India and Lebanon there is the challenge to encourage new residents to develop an understanding of Indigenous history and culture.

The event in its current format does not appear to try to attract a more varied group of attendees.




Many councils have events similar to Burramatta Family Day and those run by the Library.

The range of events is dependent on nature and size of the local community and not all activities listed below would be appropriate for the Parramatta community.

Activities run by other councils include:

·     Elders’ lunch

·     Photographic exhibition

·     Youth disco

·     Weaving workshop

·     Community art or theatre workshops to tell stories and deliver messages

·     Music workshops to develop songs and musical performance pieces

·     Indigenous Hall of Fame featuring any local role models and achievers.

·     Art competition or writing competition based around the important issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

·     Clothesline project where people write or draw messages about NAIDOC Week on t-shirts and display them in a prominent place.

·     Display in the local library or shopping centre showcasing the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

·     Local Indigenous Elders speaking at a breakfast, morning tea, lunch or sausage sizzle.

·     Indigenous artist painting a wall or a display of Indigenous artifacts.

·     Film night featuring Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander films or documentaries.




While this paper documents some clear and different opportunities for Parramatta City Council in terms of NAIDOC celebrations it is important that the intent and overall direction is clarified and agreed.


When considering any future direction of NAIDOC celebrations attention must be paid to what makes it unique and what will make it stand out from the crowd

Burramatta Family Day appears to be valued by those who do attend. While acknowledging this, the review has provided opportunities to consider some different options for the future. It is clear that any family activity at Parramatta will not be the same as the NAIDOC activities run by Blacktown, Penrith and/or Campbelltown. With significant Indigenous populations, those councils can hold more substantial events and activities.  Whatever activities Parramatta Council runs it is important that it works cooperatively with the other Councils to avoid time clashes.

Moreover given the many competing demands for funding across Council it is not likely that there will be increased funds or opportunities for funding from external sources for this activity in its current form.


There are two basic directions Council needs to decide between from at the outset. Both directions will fulfill the role of the ATSI Advisory Committee to work with Council to develop and promote appropriate celebrations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture including Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week as well as recognise and acknowledge the importance of the NAIDOC celebrations to the local Indigenous community.


The research indicates that the first direction is to generally continue with the Burramatta Family Day as it has been delivered in the past with some changes.


The second direction proposes some major changes and new opportunities that are engaging, professional, inclusive and strategic and that acknowledge Parramatta’s role as the CBD of Western Sydney.  


Running any events involves two levels of resourcing, these being budget and staff. Without additional staff resources and budget it is not possible to continue with Burramatta Family Day and concurrently deliver on some of the new opportunities. Supplementary funding must come from other sources or partnerships.

In deciding on the overall direction for the NAIDOC celebrations at Parramatta the challenge is to deliver NAIDOC events that are attractive, innovative, safe and accessible to the key target groups and broader community and meet the following criteria and guidelines:

·     Recognise the importance of the NAIDOC celebrations to the local Indigenous community

·     Achieve the national objectives of NAIDOC week which are to celebrate Aboriginal culture, recognise the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields and to involve both Indigenous people and Australians from all walks of life

·     Acknowledge Parramatta’s role as the CBD for Western Sydney in promoting cultural activities for the Greater Parramatta population


Direction one: ATSI Advisory Committee – continues to determine NAIDOC celebrations

Parramatta Council can continue according to past practice to give the ATSI Advisory Committee (along with the NAIDOC Sub Committee) the responsibility for determining how NAIDOC is celebrated including the planning for the Burramatta Family Day. It must be acknowledged though that according to existing policies and protocols such as the Committee’s Terms of Reference, the Committee does not actually have control over the decision making but rather should “work with Council in developing and promoting appropriate celebrations.”


If Council adopts this direction then it is recommended that the following changes for Burramatta Day be adopted and incorporated into the planning:


·     Food: The available food must be healthy and provide a choice of options. The provision of free food could continue but its scope would be limited.


Many people are willing to pay for food options as indicated by the feedback.


·     Children’s activities: Feedback suggests an increase in the number of hands on activities for children that are run by Indigenous people with experience and expertise in working with children.


·     Expanded range of stalls/information: Feedback suggests there needs to be more stalls with positive messages showcasing Aboriginal initiatives, enterprises, training and employment opportunities, bush tucker/ gourmet foods etc. with less low end service stalls.


·     Entertainment options: These need to be considered as an essential element of the overall theming of the event, reflecting consistency.


·     Explicit links to other activities: As access to guided walks is the number one choice for surveyed residents, as an event to celebrate NAIDOC these opportunities need to be developed and promoted strongly at the event. Walks based on the Burramatta lands self-guided walk could be included. There are also options to link into displays and activities at the Heritage Centre.


However while there will be some minor improvements the event will still be essentially the same as that which is currently held.


Direction two: A mix of events and activities that reflect a new way of celebrating NAIDOC week at Parramatta

A number of issues reflecting the feedback from the community were taken into consideration in putting together the options under direction two.

While Parramatta does not have a significant, in terms of numbers, Aboriginal population it does have a very significant history. Archaeological finds provide evidence of a long continuous settlement of Aboriginals in the area and Parramatta was also the centre of early Aboriginal European interactions. It still serves as the centre given the location of a number of Aboriginal organisations and specialist Government Aboriginal units in Parramatta with a significant Aboriginal workforce.  Part of NAIDOC week celebrations should provide an opportunity for representatives from all these organisations to come together with other Indigenous residents, community and business groups for an event that honours the Aboriginal people, acknowledges individual achievements and presents Aboriginal culture in a positive light.

Civic event incorporating public speaking activity for local secondary students:

A civic activity is held at the beginning of NAIDOC week during business hours for the raising of the flag, presentation of awards and a debate / public speaking activity with local high school pupils. This would involve members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, other Aboriginal residents, representatives from the Aboriginal organisations based in the City, state and federal political representatives, Councillors and Council staff, local businesses and student representatives from high schools and tertiary institutions.

Local state and private high schools would be encouraged to send teams to take part in a short debate or public speaking competition that would focus on relevant topics relating to Aboriginal history, culture or contemporary issues. The activity would provide a stimulating dialogue to the civic event and provide significant opportunities for student involvement.

The flag raising and debate could be followed by an indigenously catered morning tea for the invited representatives during which time NAIDOC awards could be presented to the recipients.

A major NAIDOC event

Parramatta’s unique position and significance in Australian history and in Western Sydney could also be celebrated through an event or series of activities that would showcase Parramatta to the rest of the region, the state and the nation. This may require partnering with other Government bodies to accommodate resourcing issues. The following options should be further investigated to identify the best opportunities for Parramatta City Council.

Option 1: Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the meeting place. In 1814 Governor Macquarie established an annual meeting for the local tribes at the Market Place, on Church Street, the area in front of the Town Hall. A large feast was an important part of the annual meeting. As 2014 represents the two hundred years celebration of this activity it provides a wonderful opportunity for Parramatta Council to stage a commemoration of the meeting place and launch the new-look NAIDOC into the future.


Option 2: Meeting of the Tribes in the 21st century. Some historical references suggested that the Aboriginal tribes had met on a regular basis in the Parramatta area prior to white settlement and the meeting place event initiated by Governor Macquarie was based on a pre-existing activity. Parramatta has long been and still is the place of convergence where fresh water meets salt water, an immensely important elemental feature.

Parramatta Council would initiate a twenty first century meeting place event, held every two years, inviting Aboriginal communities from across the region and state to take part. The day / night event could accommodate traditional and contemporary dance, music, theatre, film with art, craft, food etc displays and activities. A range of satellite activities could be developed to activate other town centres across the LGA.

This would provide a unique opportunity for the general public to gain an insight into this exceptional culture through the presentation of the best possible aspects of contemporary and traditional Indigenous practices.

Option 3: Linking into other Major Events. It was recently reported that the City of Sydney is planning a major new Indigenous festival with the $40,000 funding for a feasibility study coming from City of Sydney Council and Events NSW. Parramatta Council should approach City of Sydney and Events NSW to identify opportunities for engaging and offering parts of Parramatta’s Indigenous Festival to City of Sydney activities.

At the same time the Sydney festival have announced that a multimedia event I Am Eora will be one of the centerpieces of the 2012 Festival. This will tell the story of famous Aboriginals including Pemulwuy. With the increase in Festival of Sydney events planned for the west in 2012 and supported by funding in the recent State budget there may be an opportunity for this particular event to be launched at Parramatta. Again Council should commence discussions with the Sydney Festival organizers immediately.

Option 4: Sponsoring a national Indigenous Literary Prize. Parramatta Council could sponsor perhaps in partnership with other local businesses and organisations, literary awards for Indigenous writers. This could be an annual or biennial award. This is not a high cost activity as a prize of up to $10,000 will attract entries from well known authors.  The prize giving ceremony could be coordinated with the NAIDOC week Civic Event where an excerpt would be presented.

Such events as described above do not have to be held on an annual basis and may run and be funded through partnerships with other organisations including local businesses, other government departments with significant presence in Parramatta and groups such as Events NSW, Tourism NSW. Some events may even be totally funded by other organisations such as Sydney festival events and in these cases Parramatta Council may only need to be an event partner with minimal resource allocation and advocate and promote the activity especially where it supports the overall objectives of Council and NAIDOC celebrations.

Celebrating significant ‘place’

The Parramatta River forms a significant part of the story of Parramatta. It is a place of convergence and provides a theme around which a NAIDOC celebration should be planned and held. It has sites that are part of the Burramatta Walk; a significant place in the nation’s history, a river scene is on the Parramatta logo; guided walks along the River could be developed with Aboriginal Elders and through a diversity of technologies being used to tell significant stories such as that of Ballooderry and many, many others.

Increased involvement of children in NAIDOC activities

Children, especially those of primary school age have shown an interest in Aboriginal culture in their attendance at the NAIDOC events held at the libraries across the LGA. At this stage they are open to learning and NAIDOC week should provide them with varied opportunities to learn about Aboriginal culture and history. There was considerable feedback in the Yarn tent and through the surveys suggesting there needs to be more activities for children who also bring their parents and carers. Options to provide increased involvement of children include:

·     Option 5: Art and/or essay writing competition for local primary and secondary pupils.  An art and/or essay writing competition with good prizes for local schoolchildren based on a NAIDOC theme could be held each year. Council staff who currently work closely with schools could assist in developing interest in the event. Representatives from the ATSI Advisory Committee could be involved in the selection of the winners. There could be a public display of the entries where winning design is incorporated into the Citys’ banner program for NAIDOC.


·     Option 6: Expansion of Library activities: NAIDOC library activities could be expanded with additional funding, however the planning and theming of these programs should be consistent with the rest of Councils NAIDOC plans. For 2012 library staff are investigating the options of holding Black Screen film events during the afternoons during NAIDOC week. This could attract more adolescent and adult viewers and the incorporation of a ‘make your own movie’ with contemporary media should also be investigated.


There could also be a special NAIDOC story-time for the little ones which would also to bring in parents.  The production of a book of local indigenous bed-time stories would create a new product, a win for both sectors. The libraries could also be a good venue for displaying entries in art and writing competitions.


Education of broader community on history and culture of Aboriginal people

The feedback showed that there was a strong interest across the community in learning more about Aboriginal culture and history. This is also important in areas with high numbers of residents who were born overseas for the new Australian residents need opportunities to learn about the original inhabitants of this land. A good current initiative that must be acknowledged is the Building Bridges seminar series that is facilitated by the Reconciliation for Western Sydney community group that could also be involved in some of the following options.


·     Option 7:  Bush tucker and farming displays: There is strong interest in food and gardening. Displays and activities around this subject matter do not have to be limited to NAIDOC week and they could also be held in conjunction with environmental and gardening events. They could provide opportunities to attract residents to other sites such as Lake Parramatta. Produce could be used for catering at Civic or Public Events.


·     Option 8: Sharing perspectives: Each year two or three Aboriginals might be invited to be part of a “This is My Story Program” where they share their story and their perspectives. The persons invited to take part might come from very different backgrounds and the talks may be delivered as part of the NAIDOC Civic Event or as an evening lecture or daytime activity for schools or for other interest groups within the community. Their stories could be part of the promotion for the Burramatta festival published in print media and listed on Parramatta’s website.


·     Option 9: Guided Burramatta walks with translators: Such walks could be provided to coincide with NAIDOC week or other festivals for other communities such as Chinese or Hindi speaking groups. This would help to inform more recent arrivals about the Aboriginal history of Parramatta. They could also be included into new technologies (like iphones) and be available to anyone at anytime.


·     Option 10: NAIDOC scholarship program: Council to establish a NAIDOC scholarship program where each year a number of local schools are awarded a $1000 scholarship to assist with Indigenous education activities by either supporting Indigenous students or improving students’ knowledge of Indigenous culture. Schools can direct the funding to where it is needed most such as supporting Indigenous students in the transition to secondary school; running Indigenous cultural activities for students; funding speakers; visits to Aboriginal centres


·     Option 11: NAIDOC week ambassadors: NAIDOC week ambassadors deliver a NAIDOC week message to groups such as local companies, business groups, Lions, Rotary and other significant stakeholders. Council officers could work with the ambassadors in preparing presentations and employ their services across the year, not only limiting them to NAIDOC week celebrations.

The five options listed above provide opportunities for community members to develop their understanding of Aboriginal history and culture and for Indigenous culture to take a significant and active role in the life of the City.

The importance of the NAIDOC celebrations to the local Indigenous community

A guiding principle in this review has been the knowledge that the NAIDOC celebrations are vitally important to the local Indigenous community in terms of both their own involvement and ownership and also the recognition of their history, culture and achievements by the broader community.

The options presented are aimed at increasing both the significance of the NAIDOC celebrations and the opportunities for the local Indigenous community to be involved in a range of activities. As well there are some targeted options such as the Indigenous Literary awards and the scholarship program that will directly benefit and encourage Indigenous talent and students.

Role of ATSI Advisory Committee members

Under direction two the ATSI Advisory Committee would have an extended role as it will be encouraged to take a broader input by actions such as:

·     Contributing at a more strategic level to the overall planning of the celebrations to help meet all the objectives of NAIDOC and Council

·     Continuing involvement in the NAIDOC week awards

·     Acting as official hosts at the Civic event for the flag raising, morning tea, supplementary activities and award ceremony

·     Having representatives on the judging panels for all awards, competitions and scholarship programs

·     Acting as NAIDOC ambassadors



There is an opportunity for Parramatta Council to improve the quality, accessibility and relevance of NAIDOC week activities and events through better coordination and planning by:

·     Clarifying the responsibilities of the ATSI Advisory Committee’s NAIDOC Planning sub- committee so that their role is clear and they can contribute at a more strategic level for all NAIDOC activities. The Sub-Committee’s contribution must be timely so that activities, presenters etc can be booked and planned well in advance.

·     Offer training in effective project planning at a strategic level.

·     Burramatta has strong local meaning and it is suggested that all NAIDOC week activities in Parramatta be part of the Burramatta NAIDOC Festival which will include the civic event, library activities and any other activities that are adopted. This will facilitate coordinated promotion and branding.

·     In allocating funding the key NAIDOC objectives must be taken into consideration to ensure that there is an equitable spread across events and activities.

·     Staff from all areas, both internal and external responsible for providing NAIDOC activities be included in planning and coordination process with regular ‘newsletter’ style updates being issued.


The review has provided an opportunity for Parramatta Council to consider how NAIDOC events can be best delivered in the future for Council, the Indigenous Community and the greater Public. In doing so there has been extensive consultation with key stakeholders and the broader community and research into other opportunities.

The recommendations acknowledge the importance of the ATSI Advisory Committee in the process and the challenges for them in moving in a new direction –from hosting a small local event to a major activity that will be of greater significance in regional and state terms. They will have the opportunity to be involved in and contribute to the development of unique and exciting celebrations that will attract attention from a much wider area potentially becoming a part of the events calendar of NSW.

The recommendations outline a series of events and activities that will deliver considerable benefits to Parramatta Council and its community. They will:

·     Better meet the objectives of NAIDOC celebrations

·     Honour the significant Aboriginal history of the area

·     Provide vibrant, challenging and interesting opportunities to showcase contemporary Aboriginal culture and achievements

·     Strengthen Parramatta’s cultural attractions and support its claim as the second CBD in NSW

·     Provide opportunities for members of the ATSI Advisory Committee (and the NAIDOC Sub Committee) to play a central role and further develop their strategic,  creative and planning skills



It is recommended that:

1.   Parramatta Council adopts a direction in relation to NAIDOC celebrations that will involve major changes and new opportunities that are engaging, innovative, professional, inclusive and strategic and that reflects Parramatta’s role as the CBD of Western Sydney.  


2.   A Civic event incorporating a flag raising ceremony, presentation of achievement awards and  a debate or public speaking activity for local students be held during business hours at the beginning of NAIDOC week


3.   Further research be undertaken into the four major events options listed, these being 

a.   Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the meeting place

b.   Meeting of the Tribes in the 21st century

c.   Linking into other major events

d.   Sponsoring a national Indigenous Literary Prize.

to identify the scope of each event, costs and benefits and report back to Council on the recommended option(s)


4.   NAIDOC week activities at the libraries continue and be expanded giving consideration to sponsoring a writing or film competition for school children based on a NAIDOC theme


5.   Opportunities to provide guided walks, across a variety of media platforms including ones with translation to sites of Aboriginal significance be run as part of NAIDOC celebrations with a view to expansion across the events calendar.


6.   Given the strong interest in bush tucker and agriculture that displays, product stalls, demonstrations be included in other relevant events (sustainability, garden display, VIP catering etc) throughout the year


7.   The role and responsibilities of the ATSI Advisory committee be clarified to encourage   contribution at a more strategic level in relation to NAIDOC celebrations and that relevant training be offered to support this development.




APPENDIX 1 Yarn tent

25 people took part in discussions.


Burramatta day specifics

·     Many positive comments

·     Sunday is preferred day

·     Need more variety in food & drinks

·     Needs entertainment other than singing

·     Needs more activities for children

·     Prince Alfred Park is a better location than Parramatta Park

·     Do something along the river


·     Most people do not even know what Burramatta means

·     Needs better promotion and publicity

·     Each year need some high profile person or activity as a draw card

Bush tucker and agriculture

·     General interest in bush tucker, Aboriginal food and  agriculture practices

Art, Music Dance & theatre

·     More focus on art, music & dance especially involving children & youth

·     Combine with an exhibition of artifacts, weavings, art etc

Children & Youth

·     Art & writing competitions with school children

·     Currently no link with schools

·     Need more activities for youth

Aboriginal culture and history

·     Walking tours around key sites

·     Strong interest in finding out more about Aboriginal history & culture- enormous indigenous history in area is not exploited

Story & knowledge

·     Want to learn more- would like a tent like this where can ask questions and learn more.- a yarn tent

·     Story telling for little ones

Working with other councils & organisations

·     Coordinate dates between Parramatta, Holroyd & Blacktown

·     More collaboration between councils

·     Perhaps more coordination/interaction with other NAIDOC council events- combined activity even





[1] Information from NAIDOC official website

[2] Parramatta - Australia’s Next CBD. A proposal to stimulate, govern and manage growth in Greater Western Sydney. Christopher Brown, 2010

[3] A Strategic Review of Parramatta City Council’s Events program, June 2006


[4] 2006 census data