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CEO: Why NAIDOC Week resonates so strongly with Amaze

Posted on 6 July 2017 under News

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It’s NAIDOC Week and I encourage you to join the Amaze team in celebrating and reflecting on the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

At the beginning of the week, NITV news presenter Natalie Ahmat offered great personal insight into the meaning of the occasion.

She wrote that it was one of her favourite times of the year _ a time of celebrating the achievements of the First people of this country and the longest continuing culture on the planet.

Amaze’s Margaret Clancy (left) runs through an Early Days program.

But she also explained how it was a week of reflection, reminding us that NAIDOC grew out of the National Day of Mourning in 1938, and in the early days was a solemn occasion; a day of remembrance and protest against the treatment and status of First Nation’s Australians.

Amaze respects this mix of celebration and reflection and sees it as significant that the 2017 NAIDOC theme, Our Languages Matter, revolves around communication.

The theme acknowledges the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

It’s an opportune time for us at Amaze to reaffirm our commitment to work with Indigenous communities to raise awareness and understanding of autism.

In Aboriginal communities, awareness of autism can be low and this has led to us facilitating specialist Aboriginal Early Days workshops.

Early Days workshops are aimed at any parent of a young child with a diagnosis of autism or a suspected diagnosis, with workshops tailored specifically for Aboriginal communities in Melbourne and regional centres.

We respect that Aboriginal communities are unique and it’s why our program facilitators work hard to familiarise themselves with each group.

The involvement of Aboriginal communities in the development of these Early Days workshops is critical to their success.

Amaze works hard with these communities to ensure workshops will meet the needs of communities and reflect their culture and beliefs.

I’m proud to say we have so far run workshops in Shepparton, Bairnsdale, Lake Tyers and Bendigo and there’s been great feedback from the 20 participants.

One mother told us the forum was “very informative in regard to learning about autism and strategies to put in place”.

Karen Maggs, who runs the parenting hub at the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association, has attended Early Days workshops for both personal and professional reasons.

Her feedback is that the workshops are “fantastic”.

“If a parent comes to me and says, ‘my child is misbehaving’ or ‘they’re not getting what I’m saying’, it helps to be able to recognise certain behaviours as I can then put them in touch with the right support person and go through that process with them”.

Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie