NAIDOC Week celebrations.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Group officially marked Bendigo’s NAIDOC Week celebrations with a flag raising, Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony this week.

The ceremony kicked off a week of events and activities that have been significant in the Bendigo and wider community for 18 years.

Speakers at the ceremony included Dja Dja Wurrung team leader Trent Nelson and chairman of the NAIDOC Week committee Aunty Lyn.

Mr Nelson said the theme of the week – “Because of her, we can” – is very significant in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

“We need to pay respects to our mothers, sisters, aunties… because they hold us together,” Mr Nelson said.

The flags were then immersed in the smoke before they were raised outside the Bendigo Town Hall.

The smoking ceremony symbolises cleansing of the spirit and the ability to ward off bad spirits.

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rouke said NAIDOC Week is a way for people to come together and support and celebrate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“[NAIDOC Week] involves coming together each year to celebrate the history, culture and achievement of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and support our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

NAIDOC Week has featured a number of activities including children’s activities, art exhibitions and more. Events continue through until Sunday.

– Alex Gretgrix