BLOCK PARTY! Public servants celebrate NAIDOC Week in Woden enclave

By Stephen Easton

July 6, 2017

To celebrate NAIDOC Week, seven federal agencies with neighbouring offices in Canberra’s Woden town centre are hosting a “block party” tomorrow afternoon with food, entertainment, speeches and market stalls.

The party starts at the ground floor of the Sirius building, home to the Department of Health and a central point in one of Canberra’s main Australian Public Service ‘hoods.

Nearby offices are filled with staff of the other hosting agencies: the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, IP Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Department of Social Services, the Australian Public Service Commission and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Dance group Wiradjuri Echoes will hold a smoking ceremony and PM&C first assistant secretary Joy Savage will speak about what NAIDOC Week means to her before “a few words from Woden APS leaders” conclude the formalities.

Then there will be Torres Strait Islander dance, live music, a “native flavours” barbecue and a cakes — for sale, to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Perhaps following the Naughty Corey school of events management, the public service commission has invited “EVERYONE” to come along and celebrate this year’s NAIDOC Week, which has been focused on the importance of preserving the Indigenous languages that remain, and their value to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Not only is the inner south APS enclave a prefect location for a block party, given thousands of federal bureaucrats could pour out of their offices and really create a large event, it is also where most of PM&C’s Indigenous affairs staff happen to work, and where they were largely based before being brought into the central agency.

A certain Melbourne-based Canberra Times reporter has regularly cocked a snoot at the town centre as an “unfashionable” place to work, in comparison to Barton, where the senior executives of central agencies like PM&C have traditionally been based for easy access to Parliament House. On the other hand, Barton is somewhat aloof to the Canberra community, given hardly anybody actually lives there.

Woden might not be as upmarket as the central suburb but perhaps tomorrow’s bash will prove it has a bit more soul.

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