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This week is NAIDOC week, and the theme for 2021 is ‘Heal Country’.

Based on the idea that our country is inherent to our identity, including spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally, our home is much more than just a place – this too can honour the same notion for the space your business resides on. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the land is spoken of as if it were a person. We belong to the land, it does not belong to us, and everything is intertwined – family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. It is a deeply spiritual and beautiful way to consider the patch of earth we call home.

For many business owners and therapists, the reality of working long hours means we spend more time at work than we do at home. Interconnected with loving what we do, we should too pay forward that same love to the land which allows us to practice our services in the first place. This years NAIDOC theme of ‘Heal Country’ is asking Australians of all kinds to take time honouring country, and naturally, there are some lessons to be learnt in doing so.

The first aspect of this year’s theme is seeking out greater protections of the land’s sacred sites and cultural heritage, ensuring these are not lost or destroyed. In describing this year’s theme, the NAIDOC community says “Increasingly, we worry about Country. For generations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage for all Australians. We have continued to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.”

“Healing Country means hearing those pleas to provide greater management, involvement, and empowerment by Indigenous peoples over country. Healing Country means embracing First Nation’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage. That the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders are respected equally to and the cultures and values of all Australians.”

The second aspect seeks fundamental change in the way Australians at large view Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and taking control of the narrative of events we tell to future generations.

“Fundamental grievances will not vanish. In the European settlement of Australia, there were no treaties, no formal settlements, no compacts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people therefore did not cede sovereignty to our land. It was taken from us. That will remain a continuing source of dispute. While we can’t change history, through telling the truth about our nation’s past we certainly can change the way history is viewed.”

“Healing Country is more than changing a word in our national anthem – it is about the historical, political, and administrative landscapes adapting to successfully empower and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, nations, and heritage. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

This is something that we here at team Beaute feel incredibly strongly for, and are coming to you, our community, to play our part in changing this narrative. Beaute Industrie Founder Director Tamara Reid encourages us, both this week and beyond, to consider how fortunate we are to reside and make a living on this special land we call home, to consider the generations of culture, traditions and memories that have been made and passed down before us, and most importantly, consider how we can give voice to them. “As a business running and taking up space here on Aussie soil, it’s important for us to spend a moment thinking about what that truly means,” says Tamara.

“For us,
it means respecting those who were here since the dawn of time,
it means listening to the voices who know the lay of the landscape,
it means hearing those pleas to provide greater management, involvement, and empowerment by Indigenous peoples,
it means amplifying voices and talking to those who need a platform to do so,
it means treading lightly and leaving no physical footprint behind once we leave.”

Something we as a society are seeing more and more often is the acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of the lands we visit, most often at venues such as museums or cultural activities such as musical or arts events. This is of course a voluntary offering of respect and cultural acknowledgement, and there is nothing preventing you and your business from doing the same! Consider researching the traditional custodians of the land you practice your business on, either just for your own knowledge or got that step further and share this information with your team. Take this newfound knowledge and perhaps interweave the narrative into your client journey through your business story, rituals, services, in-salon signage, via social media, or on your website. Any passing down of knowledge and traditions, whether it be large groups or simply individuals, is exactly what NAIDOC Week aims to achieve.

“We honour the land we do business and life on, particularly here at Beaute HQ in Yuggera country,” says Tamara. “We believe that to truly Heal Country, we have more to do.”

If you would like to do more to support NAIDOC Week and play your part to Heal Country, raising awareness is always the most powerful contributor. We urge you to take a few moments to share these sentiments on social media and verbally with those around you. The only way we as individuals can make real change is by speaking with our own communities, sparking some thought and conversation, and challenges viewpoints the others aren’t quite ready to address – until someone else speaks first.

Artwork by Holly Sanders, a contemporary Aboriginal artist.