When Adelaide midfielder Wayne Milera thinks about NAIDOC week, there are many things that come to his mind.
He thinks about what it means to be a proud Narungga nation, Gunditjmara and Jardwadjali man and reflects on his family, as well as his connection to Country.
Milera, now 23, remembers celebrating NAIDOC Week with his family as a youngster.
“(NAIDOC family days) were held at Elder Park, there have also been some in Victoria Square or Tarntanyangga, and then there’s been a couple held in Victoria Park as well,” Milera said.
"It’s more about gathering (and) it’s very important and good to recognise people who have put in hard work and are achieving something.”
The 2021 NAIDOC Week theme is 'Heal Country’, which recognises the significance of the land and calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
Milera’s father is from Yorke Peninsula and is from Narungga nation, while his mother is Gunditjmara and Jardwadjali, from Western Victoria.
The Rising Star said he took great pride in returning to his family’s Country and preserving it for future generations was vital.
“It’s quite important to keep handing it down and get everyone knowing where they come from,” Milera said.
“Sometimes we will pass through the Grampians and Mum is always pretty keen to show us her land.
“We get down to Yorke Peninsula quite often and it’s always good to go back to Country.
“Although we haven’t lived there, it just feels like home and a special place. It’s a place I can go to regenerate and relax.
“Country to me is a special place and it’s important that we protect it and we don’t let anything happen to it and we continue to grow it for generations to come.”
This year’s NAIDOC Week has extra significance for Milera, with his sister Keisha painting artwork as part of SA’s celebrations.
Keisha’s artwork was unveiled at the Gawler Place canopy on Tuesday and recognised at the Lord Mayor’s Luncheon on Wednesday.
“Her artwork is broadly about family and sense of belonging and it recognises all different other Aboriginal groups,” Milera said.
“It’s quite special.
“NAIDOC Week is about not only us acknowledging each other and sharing our culture, but it’s also about letting all Australians share it with us.”