Staff and offenders at three of Serco’s correctional facilities across Australia have been celebrating NAIDOC week, a valuable opportunity to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
At Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (SQCC), Wandoo Reintegration Facility in Murdoch, Western Australia and Acacia Prison in Wooroloo, staff, visitors and offenders embraced the spirit of NAIDOC Week’s theme of ‘We value the vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963”.
SQCC’s official opening flag raising ceremony emphasised the importance of NAIDOC week in recognising family and taking pride in indigenous culture as well as being a time for reflection.
The common aim across all three centres is to reduce reoffending. During NAIDOC week, Indigenous Elders, staff and others seek to do that by strengthening offenders’ understanding and respect for their culture, community and families.
At Wandoo’s opening day, respected Elder Dr Noel Nannup commenced with a Welcome to Country, a cleansing ceremony and gave an inspirational speech about ‘walking together’. There was also a busy schedule of activities attended by over 100 people, including offenders’ families and children, who were invited to the facility to join in the celebrations.
At Acacia, a flag raising ceremony, BBQ and a football game attended by special guest Antoni Grover, a former Fremantle Dockers player, kicked off the week’s events.
Over the week long celebrations at all three facilities, packed programa of cultural activities were attended by Indigenous Elders, government officials, corrective services staff, offenders, their families and Serco staff. Highlights of the week included traditional dances, storytelling, a ‘wellness day’, sports games, a kangaroo tail feast and many more. The activities promoted healthy living, strong cultural connections and time with family.
Serco Asia Pacific’s chief executive Mark Irwin expressed his gratitude to the Elders, staff, community members and offenders who made this year’s NAIDOC week a great success.
“Serco staff work so hard planning NAIDOC week activities every year. I am very proud of what they have achieved this week, and I would like to recognise the important role that cultural events like this make in the rehabilitation of offenders. I would also like to make special mention of the community Elders who generously gave their time to be a part of the events at SQCC, Wandoo and Acacia’.