This NAIDOC Week 2023 we reflect upon and celebrate the role that Elders have played, and continue to play, in our communities. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ‘Eldership’ is more than age. It is a title of honour and respect, given to those that are entrusted with “maintaining the cultural well-being of family, community, and country” (Gibson, Dudgeon, & Crockett, 2020). The theme, ‘For Our Elders’ reminds us of the deep connections that First Nations peoples have had to Country and culture for an unparalleled span of millennia. We pay homage to the work of Elders that have been, those today and those to come. 

(Nagurrgurrba, 2023)

Orange Sky’s work in connecting people doing it tough with everyday support and meaningful conversation is not new to these lands. For thousands of generations, Elders have used their roles as cultural knowledge holders, nurturers, advocates and leaders; to bring people together.

Today, Orange Sky continues to work with, learn from and be guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. They are within our committees, on shifts and supporting communities in which we operate. The decisions and knowledge of Elders have shaped our work, particularly within remote communities where we operate 14 services, spanning across QLD, NT and WA.

(Nampijinpa Hudson, 2023)

Our Program Manager of Remote Services, Judith Meiklejohn, reflects on the role of Elders in her work. “We had been operating in Lockhart River for 10 months when I started working with Orange Sky in 2018. I remember setting up a community meeting to learn how the service was tracking. Elders in the community helped me understand that we needed to entirely rethink our remote service model,” Judith said. 

Judith attributes a great deal of Orange Sky’s growth in remote services, to the words and guidance of those Elders. Each of our current and new services works alongside local organisations, Traditional Owners and Elders to ensure we are providing positive and culturally safe connections within communities. 

“In my work, I have been fortunate to see the way that Elders thoughtfully consider age-old cultural protocols, whilst contemplating impacts several generations ahead. There is much that non-Indigenous people and organisations can and should learn from Elders,” Judith said.

(Nagurrgurrba, 2023)

The role of Elders cannot be understated. It is a crucial component of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; for the betterment of all Australians. This NAIDOC Week, and beyond, we celebrate and thank the Elders who pave the way for a better future, for Orange Sky and our wider Australian community.



Gibson, C., Dudgeon, P. and Crockett, J. (2020) ‘Listen, look & learn: Exploring cultural obligations of elders and older Aboriginal people’, Journal of Occupational Science, 27(2), pp. 193–203. doi:10.1080/14427591.2020.1732228. 

Nagurrgurrba, I. (2023) KINGA – SALT WATER CROCODILE, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: 

Nampijinpa Hudson, M. (2023) BUSH ONION DREAMING 2, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: 

Nagurrgurrba, I. (2023) LONG NECKED TURTLE, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: 

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