By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs, initially chosen as the focus of this year’s national NAIDOC celebrations, has lost its position because of local fears the functions may bring Covid-19.
The gala awards night will now be held in the Sydney Opera House.
“It was a very tough decision for us,” says Catherine Satour, the head of the local NAIDOC committee.
The awards event was due to bring some 2000 guests to Alice Springs.
It was cancelled early this month and is being replaced with a televised gala event on Saturday, July 3 broadcast out of Sydney.
Mr Satour says neither Covid authorities in the NT nor the committee’s advisors at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress heath service had suggested the event should not be held.
Congress as the 2021 Alice Springs NAIDOC Committee Lead Organisation had offered its support to whichever decision the committee would make.
Asked why the event was dropped despite fixtures such as the Finke race are being held in The Centre, Ms Satour said it was clear that Covid “is still an issue now” and recent clusters in Victoria and NSW had motivated the committee to exercise “due diligence.
“We gave it a lot of consideration. It was the most sensible way forward.
”It is not a completely lost opportunity. We remain hopeful that NAIDOC will come back to us.”
There will be local functions this year.
The national NAIDOC body describes the week-long celebrations on its website “as the most anticipated event on the national Indigenous calendar, the Awards will recognise the outstanding contributions made by 10 individuals across art, sport, language, education, employment, training, leadership, community empowerment and environmental and cultural preservation”.
About the cancellation of the Alice Springs events the national body says: “The decision was made in consultation with the Alice Springs NAIDOC Committee and our key stakeholders in light of escalating community concerns and emerging issues about COVID-19.”
ILLUSTRATION from the NAIDOC website.