Elders shaping future generations

As we come together to celebrate NAIDOC Week across Australia, we are united with the opportunity to honour the rich culture of First Nations peoples and reflect on our journey towards reconciliation.

This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week is For our Elders, and provides an opportunity to honour our Elders who have played a pivotal role in preserving and passing on cultural knowledge and traditions.

In May, we celebrated National Reconciliation Week (NRW) – Be a Voice for Generations and Indigenous History Month. NRW is celebrated annually from May 27 to June 3, and commemorates two significant dates in the journey to reconciliation.

On May 27 1967, the most successful referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census.

On June 3, the High Court delivered the Mabo Decision where Eddie Mabo overturned the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ – land belonging to no one. This decision paved the way for recognition of Native Title.

To foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous history and culture, QLS collaborated with Carter Newell Lawyers which hosted an event for National Reconciliation Week and Indigenous History Month.


This event featured special guest speaker Aunty Sarah Addo, an elder of Geemooiburra-Yarraburra Kunggandji peoples of Kamoi and traditional owner of Yarrabah Country in the Cairns region.

To commemorate NRW, Aunty Sarah (pictured) spoke about the significant role that Elders have in shaping future generations. She discussed the importance of empowering Elders during community consultation and offering their unique perspectives on the challenges faced to promote autonomy and trust within the communities.

By amplifying the voices of Elders and actively involving them in community consultation, this can uphold their identity and pride within the community.

Aunty Sarah also highlighted the positive impact of sport and recreation for building community programs to actively engage with youth and build structure in the community.

In recognition of Indigenous History Month, Aunty Sarah shared her rich cultural knowledge of Indigenous lore, customs and traditions of Kunggandji peoples spanning generations. Aunty spoke about the important role of preserving this knowledge to foster empowerment and a strong sense of pride for future generations.

We thank Carter Newell Lawyers for hosting this event and providing a safe space for knowledge sharing. We are grateful to Aunty Sarah Addo for her contribution and providing us with an opportunity for knowledge sharing and invaluable insights.


We are reminded to embrace our collective responsibility in preserving and honouring Indigenous history and culture. Aunty Sarah has consistently amplified the voices of mob and plays a significant role in her community – she is a voice for generations to come.

As we commemorate these significant events, it highlights the importance of building trust and embracing our collective responsibility in preserving and honouring indigenous history and culture.

The exchange of knowledge sharing and experience promotes a greater understanding of challenges faced in communities by amplifying First Nations voices.

The efforts of organisations like Carter Newell Lawyers in hosting this event demonstrates the power of dialogue and reminds us reconciliation is not a destination, but a continuing journey that requires participation from us all.  

To stay up to date with upcoming events, you can access the QLS Cultural Calendar here

Heather Ferris is the First Nations Legal Coordinator at Queensland Law Society.

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