Aurizon’s Craig Hookey shares his insights on NAIDOC Week
Craig Hookey has enjoyed almost 30 years in the rail industry, currently working as a Senior Safeworking Adviser for our Network business on Darumbal country (Rockhampton, Queensland). Craig is a proud Waanyi man and member of Aurizon’s Indigenous Reference Group. He shares some of his family’s history and why NAIDOC Week is important to him.
We are proud of our Aboriginal heritage and that we have been here for tens of thousands of years. It’s important that everyone understands how far back our history and culture goes, and that we will be on country for thousands of years to come.
Our people have been through a lot over the last couple of hundred years and still face a lot of challenges and yet we continue to remain culturally strong and spiritually connected to our country and we always will.
The NAIDOC Week theme ‘Heal Country!’ calls on stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
To Heal Country, all our nation’s people should understand how much desecration and destruction has already occurred on country, and better protect what is left of our land, water, sacred sites and cultural heritage. Healing Country is also about resolving many of the injustices that have impacted and continue to impact the lives of our people.
I would ask all our nation’s people to be more understanding and to empathise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ challenges and be compassionate when opportunity presents. The more we understand, the more effectively we can all assist in the healing process.
Through sharing some of my family’s history and the importance of NAIDOC Week, I hope to encourage more cultural conversations with our people within Aurizon and outside Aurizon, so that we all get to know each other just a little better through a cultural lens.
On my mother’s side, my Great Grandmothers Nellie (no last name) and Violet Darby are both Aboriginal. They are both from Burketown, Queensland in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and they are proud Waanyi people and we are all proud descendants of theirs.
My Great Grandfathers are George Samardin, a fisherman from Java, Indonesia and Yuen Kim Hook (ah Hookey), a cook from Canton, China, and we share in their rich cultures as well.
I have never known my father or my father’s heritage, so I do have a missing piece in my heritage puzzle unfortunately.
I was born in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar country, andfrom the ripe old age of six weeks,I was raised by my Grandmother Ethel in Cloncurry, North West Queensland on Mitakoodi country. It was also here where I first joined the Railways in 1990 as a Labourer in a Mechanised Flying Gang as I nailed the job interview: “You play football?” – “Yes” – “Okay go get a medical!”
Since then I’ve been with the railways for nearly 30 years. I’m proud to be part of Aurizon’s Indigenous Reference Group, supporting the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan as well as NAIDOC celebrations in our company and our communities.
As part of how we celebrate our history, our culture and our achievements, my family and I attend local NAIDOC Week celebrations. My wife is non-indigenous and is a Native Title Project Officer and already has strong connections with, and respect for, our people.
This connection has been strengthened as we also have two proud young Indigenous boys, to guide on their journey as young aboriginal men. We regularly educate the boys on who they are and what it means to be a part of the oldest culture on earth.
The Day Care and the School my children attend are very culturally connected and they celebrate NAIDOC, so the boys always feel proud when their culture is on display. My youngest is always proud to announce that he knows how to throw a boomerang!
I encourage you and your families to get involved with Aurizon and community celebrations during NAIDOC Week, or simply have a conversation with some of our people about what the NAIDOC theme means to them!