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Back to Resourceful July 2021

Celebrating NAIDOC Week in 2021 - First Nations front and centre

Focusing on Australia’s rich Indigenous culture and history, we look at how Queensland Metals celebrated NAIDOC week this year.

Every July, NAIDOC Week celebrations are held annually across the country to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘NAIDOC’ originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. It has grown so much, the acronym is now the name of the week itself, and is celebrated by Australians from all walks of life.

Kalkadoon man Will Blackley delivered Welcome to Country across all Mount Isa Mines’ NAIDOC celebrations.
Mitakoodi elder Hombre Major delivering Welcome to Country at Ernest Henry Mining’s NAIDOC morning tea.

At Queensland Metals, we are proud to play our part in recognising and respecting cultural heritage and Indigenous connections to country and value the contribution Indigenous employees make to our company and the community. This year across our operations we held a range of events to commemorate NAIDOC week from 4-11 July 2021.

At Mount Isa Mines, barbeques were held at the Zinc-Lead Concentrator, Copper Mining operations and Copper Smelter which included a Welcome to Country from our Indigenous Employment Coordinator and Kalkadoon man, Will Blackley, as well as several managers speaking on the importance of NAIDOC Week within our business.

At Ernest Henry Mining, a Welcome to Country was provided by Elder Hombre Major of the Mitakoodi people before singing about their connection with the Cloncurry region at a morning tea to acknowledge the occasion.

Employees at the Zinc-Lead Concentrator take a moment to enjoy the occasion.
Queensland Metals Chief Operating Officer Matt O’Neill at the Elders Luncheon in Mount Isa.

As is customary each NAIDOC, a theme is chosen to represent the week, and this year it was ‘Heal Country’, which regardless of ethnicity is relatable to each of us.

To Indigenous Australians, the term ‘country’ refers to their traditional lands that includes the land, waters and sky. ‘Country’ is also a spiritual, physical, emotional, social and cultural connection that all of us have to the land we live on.

Whether it be through camping, going to the lake, spending time with family or being active in your community, we all live on and share in celebrating our country.

Indigenous Employment Coordinator, Will Blackley, says this was the first year that NAIDOC events had expanded in the operations and was proud of the amazing start.

Cake cutting with local Elders and Mount Isa Mayor Danielle Slade at the Elders Luncheon sponsored by Mount Isa Mines.
Many of our Mount Isa Mines employees attended the NAIDOC community march and Mob FM Family Fun Day. (Left to right): Brodie Lombe - Mining Engineer, Caroline Lucas - Scheduler, and Matthew Kennedy - Mining Engineer).

“I think it’s a great step forward for our company and everyone was quick to get on board with the idea,” says Will.

“It really gives us the ability to highlight our commitment to Indigenous employment and diversity in the workplace.”

Health, Safety, Environment and Community General Manager, Maryann Wipaki, says as well as celebrating onsite, Mount Isa Mines also had a presence in the Mount Isa community.

“We were proud to continue our sponsorship of the NAIDOC Elders Luncheon,” says Maryann.

Indigenous Mosquito dance

Local Kalkadoon Dance group, Sundowners, performing at the Mob FM NAIDOC Family Fun Day.

“The Elders Luncheon is a longstanding event of NAIDOC Week each year, and aims to give back the elders of the Mount Isa Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

Many Mount Isa Mines employees also participated in the NAIDOC march enjoying the festivities at the Mob FM Family Fun Day where Mount Isa Mines hosted a stall to attract interest in our Indigenous Employment Program.

As always, NAIDOC Week is a great time to reflect on the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but most importantly, to think about the path forward. This year’s NAIDOC Week was certainly one to remember.