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NAIDOC Week 2023

30th June, 2023
Cotton On is proud to be an Australian-born business on First Nations lands. We Acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original custodians of the lands upon which we live and work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect and appreciation for the thousands of years that they have cared for and conserved this Country’s lands, waters and culture, and continue this today.

This NAIDOC Week, we’re celebrating Cotton On Foundation’s First Nations partners.

From remote North-East Arnhem Land to Wadawurrung Country in Victoria’s south, Cotton On Foundation is proud to partner with First Nations organisations that are empowering young people with the skills and support they need to succeed in their own right. Through the protection, preservation and celebration of cultural knowledge, future generations can continue to express and explore their identity while deepening their connection to community and Country.

Meet our First Nations partners

Djalkiri Foundation
Supporting Yolŋu people to lead empowered lives of meaning

‘Djalkiri’ is a Yolŋu word, meaning ‘foundation’. It’s the heart of a Yolŋu person’s identity, the thing that makes someone Yolŋu. Established by Yolŋu woman Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman, Djalkiri Foundation was created to hold space, provide support and help create meaningful individualised plans for Yolŋu people to find success in their own right. Faced with the challenges of navigating two worlds, Djalkiri Foundation ensures that Yolŋu people are empowered to own their journey and shape their own future. Working alongside mentors and community Elders, programs include higher education support, wellbeing support and mentoring for personal life plans.

“If we are able to create the space for them to understand and reflect on their impact as individuals and as a Yolŋu person within their bigger community, they have the potential to walk in both worlds. To be able to understand and operate in a Western world, uphold and continue their responsibilities as a Yolŋu person, and reflect on the importance of their Djalkiri.” – Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman, Manapanami (CEO) of Djalkiri Foundation

Learning on Country Workshops | Yirrkala
Deepening connection to culture within the school curriculum through knowledge from elders

As part of the Yirrkala School and Yirrkala Homelands School curriculum, Yolŋu secondary students can take part in Learning on Country ‘Galtha Rom’ workshops. This program goes beyond the classroom and takes place on Country, connecting students with Yolŋu learnings.

To learn more, click here.

Yirrkala School | Yirrkala

Yirrkala School is one of the few bilingual schools in Australia with an educational pathway and curriculum that supports learning in first language, Yolŋu Matha. Some of the projects COF support include wellbeing, music and creative workshops, cultural workshops and teacher training.

The Mulka Project | Yirrkala & Homelands
Exploring Yolŋu culture through music, story, art and creative expression

The Mulka Project takes place in the Buku-Larrŋgay Arts Centre and allows Yolŋu youth to take part in digital, visual and cultural art under the leadership of community elders and external specialists. Students have access to a production house, recording studio, digital learning centre, cultural archive, and regular music workshops to help them develop creative arts skills and build confidence to express and explore their identity.

To learn more, click here.

Wellbeing Program | Yirrkala
Engaging and supporting students through mentorship

The Yirrkala School Wellbeing Program aims to Strengthen students’ connection and engagement with their school and teachers. Students and their families are encouraged to connect, support one another and celebrate achievements.

Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education (C-BATE) | Yirrkala School & Laynhapuy Homelands School

C-BATE supports Yolŋu teachers to further their careers without having to leave their communities to study. Teachers can develop skills while remaining connected to their families, communities and elders. This increases the number of qualified Yolŋu teachers working in Yirrkala School and Laynhapuy Homeland Schools while supporting the teachers in maintaining a strong sense of culture and identity.

Strong Brother, Strong Sister (SBSS) | Wadawurrung Country
Creating a strong sense of belonging, through meaningful support networks

Strong Brother Strong Sister (SBSS) is an Aboriginal-owned and led organisation servicing Geelong and the greater Wadawurrung area. Through youth groups, mentoring and one-on-one counselling, SBSS is breaking down barriers facing young people today, advocating for the needs of their community and amplifying the voices of young First Nations people.

To learn more, click here.

Let’s give 100%

Together, we’ve raised over AUD $3.7M to date to support our First Nations partners. Your ongoing support is the reason we can continue to partner with these amazing programs and make a difference. Grab a Cotton On Foundation item today. 100% of proceeds support projects that empower youth to thrive.

Shop Cotton On Foundation

To learn more about Cotton On’s commitment to reconciliation in Australia, click here to read Cotton On’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.