NAIDOC Week: celebrating culture, strength, endurance, leadership

Published 5:00pm 7 July 2022

NAIDOC Week: celebrating culture, strength, endurance, leadership
Words by Kylie Knight

As we celebrate NAIDOC Week, we chat to proud Torres Strait Islander woman Sorita McGrane about her role in working with food and agribusiness in our region, the opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and operated businesses and what NAIDOC Week means to her.

Sorita is from the Kalaw Lagaw Ya language group on her mother’s side and was appointed Principal Industry Lead for Food and Agribusiness and Workforce in the Economic Development Department at Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) in January 2021.

In her role, she works with stakeholders and industry to build the food and agribusiness ecosystem and grow food identity and capacity in the region.

“I also work across initiatives for regional workforce development and Indigenous business development,” she explains.

Before joining Council, she worked in economic development for the State Government across the Darling Downs and southwest Queensland.

Before this, she worked for 10 years in senior management at TAFE Queensland leading Indigenous Studies and TAFE at School departments.

|“My favourite part about working in economic development are the people that I meet and have the privilege to work with. Our region’s business owners and operators are hardworking, resilient, innovative and passionate,” Sorita explains.|

“Their lived experience and commitment to greatness always inspires me. Working for a large organisation also presents opportunity to engage internally on diverse projects or strategy development.

“Currently I am a member of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group to support the development of MBRC’s first RAP. It’s an exciting journey which is strongly supported from the highest levels of the organisation. Seeing that adds value to the process and means a great deal to me personally.”

Why is your role important?

“Moreton Bay is facing significant opportunity. It’s an exciting time for us as the fifth fastest growing local government area in Australia. Working in a team that supports local industry to grow and promote the identity of the region is a privilege,” she says.

“As a local Indigenous resident, the potential of the region can also mean greater outcomes for Indigenous economic participation. (It’s) something I believe the MBRC Reconciliation Action Plan will support and a goal that I work to contribute (to) both professionally and personally.”

What does NAIDOC Week mean to you?

“As an Indigenous person, NAIDOC is important to me and marks some time to celebrate the culture of First Nations people. It’s also about acknowledging the strength of our communities, to honour the endurance and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors and descendants and cast light on our current leaders for the work they are doing now and their capability and responsibility to shape the future,” she says.

“Hearing the keynote of Minster for Indigenous Affairs Linda Burney at a NAIDOC event this week, the Minster described NAIDOC Week as an “important process of truth telling.” This resonated with me as the story of Australians First Nations people is embedded in our national identity.

“It is a story that is hard at times, it can be shameful, it is stained with deep pain, injustice and sorrow. It is also a story of strength and courage, culture, leadership and healing. It is the story of First Nations people, yet is the story we all are responsible to listen to and to know.”

Embracing new opportunities

Sorita says while she is new to the region and not a spokesperson for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, she is positive about opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and operated businesses in the Moreton Bay Region.

“With some 500 Indigenous-owned businesses identified within the national Supply Nation database operating in our region across various sectors, with a large portion of businesses active in the industrial and construction, education and training, consulting and facilities management sectors, there is strong positioning for increased participation in the supply chain than ever before,” she says.

“Lack of knowledge and understanding will always create barriers. It is an exciting time for Indigenous affairs. The recent appointment of Australia’s Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the progression of the Uluru statement and constitutional reform are all positive steps forward for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

How can the rest of the community help or learn more to benefit everyone?

“The theme for NAIDOC Week this year is Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up. There is always an important role for the broader community to play, which is why I love this theme so much,” Sorita says.

“There is positive and historical change on the horizon for Indigenous Australia, but it is only possible through shared understanding and dialogue. I would encourage people to start their own learning journey and be an active participant of reconciliation.”

Other NAIDOC Week stories

NAIDOC Week in Moreton Bay Region

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Celebrations are being held this week and next. Here’s what’s happening

Flag upgrade to mark NAIDOC Week

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are to become a “permanent” fixture at Moreton Bay Regional Council’s three administration centres and two chambers.

Indigenous mural featuring native animals and carpet snake unveiled in Caboolture for NAIDOC Week

The mural was painted by acclaimed Indigenous artist James Doyle – a proud Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi), Butchella, Iman, Gungarri man - and his family. Find out what stories are in the mural here

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