For Our Elders - How to honour culture this NAIDOC week

NAIDOC Week 2023

The 2023 National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) theme is ‘For Our Elders’, our great grandparents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who carry the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique.

We cherish their legacy by celebrating those who are no longer with us and those who continue nurturing and sharing community stories. Your collective voices keep our culture alive and communities thriving, but also educate those who choose to walk beside us all, not in front, in a movement of creating a better future for all Australians.

NAIDOC Week 2023 | For Our Elders | Warndu

We are moving into a critical phase (time wise) where our elders and their voices need to be respected, valued, and heard. Time is no longer on the side of our older peoples or ours in learning their ways.

For me I believe respect is NOT a one-off interaction that is organised one week before NAIDOC week. It’s a relationship based on respect and two-way learning that takes place more than once during the year. And most importantly, respectful listening with an intent to learn and form meaningful connections.

How to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2023?

Celebrating our elder’s lives and stories through our actions are key to creating meaning and change. Actions you can take during NAIDOC week include engaging in First Nation Storytelling, by being proactive and actively participating in local, regional, and metropolitan events. Events can be found on the NAIDOC homepage, events tab or indigenous social media platforms. NO excuses.

Do this with friends and loved ones. Reserve a table at a restaurant or café that celebrates diverse stories, culture, and our amazing native flavours. Learn and share stories, reflect and remember. Create ReconciliACTION around the table with one another. Take it one step further by bringing indigenous flavour into your home. 

This week you can watch me on a special edition of The Cook Up (NAIDOC week) hosted by the lovely Nornie Bero, as we discover how baking a Quandong Pie feels like home, and symbolises a kinship and connection to Country. 

The Cook Up with Adam Liaw airs weeknights at 7pm on SBS Food (Ch.33). Watch Damien on the 6th of July. All episodes available anytime on SBS on Demand.

Damien Coulthard as seen on SBS | Warndu

Photo by Jiwon Kim @jiwonkaeshoot

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artist’s across diverse landscapes are sharing First Nation stories, from theatre to street murals. It’s important to recognise all forms of cultural expression have a place in our history. Today they exist in these spaces because of our elders, and without their collective journeys we wouldn’t have the platform to continue celebrating our cultural heritage and inspiring the next generation to own their environments. Land, sea, and waterways.

Damien Coulthard painting | Warndu

The Voice to Parliament is obviously a hot topic of conversation with the Referendum moving near. If you are someone who is sitting on the fence and simply don’t know what the best decision is moving forward…be proactive and do your research.

Thomas Mayo, a Torres Strait Islander fella, has authored “The Voice to Parliament Handbook”. An easy-to-follow guide for the millions of Australians who have expressed support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, but also want to better understand what a Voice to Parliament actually means. An easy read over NAIDOC, I highly recommend it.

The Voice to Parliament Handbook by Thomas Mayo | Warndu

From being proactive, stepping out your comfort zone, and seeking clarification from First Nations peoples, to forming connections on country with humans who understand their needs and wants in the context of living and working environments. We must all continue conversations with friends and family, always, not just this week. Every week.

NAIDOC for me is a time of reflection, celebration, and action.

With love and lemon myrtle,


So how will you ACT this NAIDOC week?

We have identified a few events or experiences that would be of value, visit the links below to learn more.

You can also find a full ist of NAIDOC events in your region.

South Australia

Culture: Living Kaurna Cultural Centre

Art: Tarnanthi 2023

Visit: The Kaurna Wangayarta Smithfield Memorial Park

Explore: Adelaide Street Murals

New South Wales

Performance: No Fixed Address live at the Art Gallery of NSW

Dance: Bangara presents Yuldea

Storytelling: Carriageworks Nights

Discuss: Panel discussion at the MCA 


Visit: Pinangba Ny-Ku Byun Elders Village

Culture: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Celebrate: National NAIDOC Week Awards Ceremony

Performance: Aboriginal Culture Show


Performance: Electric Fields & Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Art: Mullum Mullum Community Blak Arts

Storytelling: Aunty Marlene Gilson in conversation with Kiri Smart

Explore: NAIDOC 2023 Running Festival

Western Australia

Art: Unearthing Stories in Art

Culture: Kullarri NAIDOC Festival

Explore: Walk and Yarn

Culture: Mookaroo Festival


Performance: At What Cost?

Taste: Kipli takara piyura kitina-ta (bush foods walk at Risdon Cove)

Watch: NAIDOC Week Film Showcase