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Lena Charles chats about The NAIDOC Virtual Run/March

Lena Charles is a proud Yorta Yorta/Gunai Kurnai woman from Mooroopna, Victoria. In 2016 she graduated with a Masters in Public Health from the University of Melbourne. Lena is back to yarn with Gman on Big Brekkie. After the success of RunRona and the devastation of hearing that NAIDOC Week had been cancelled due to COVID-19, the Spark Health team launched there second virtual run event. This event combined two favourite things: health and culture! The NAIDOC Virtual MARCH | Run event took place last weekend during NAIDOC week, which nationally would have been held between 5-12 July, 2020.

A highlight of every NAIDOC is the MARCH and we are recreating this historic event virtually from Friday 10 July - Sun 12 July. They have included Friday as part of the event as the NAIDOC MARCH is usually held on a Friday. Each year, a theme is chosen to reflect important issues and events for NAIDOC Week. This year’s NAIDOC theme is Always Was, Always Will Be. With absolutely everything up in the air right now, finding ways to still celebrate NAIDOC whilst having a goal to keep us focused and active has never been so important. Let’s control the controllable and continue or start to kick our health and well-being goals. Looking after our physical, emotional and spiritual health right now it is a huge protective factor in staying well.

The medal is in the shape of the land mass, we now refer to as Australia and uses campfire symbols to highlight cities, where many people gather. This medal honours over 300 Aboriginal language groups and the colours of the Aboriginal flag in Tasmania is a sign of strength, as Tasmania was one of the places hardest hit by invasion. The repeating chant ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ surrounding Australia makes a statement that sovereignty was never ceded, and that Australia always will be and always was, Aboriginal land.

This medal was designed by Gunditjmara artist, Laura Thompson. Since graduating, Lena has immersed herself in various Aboriginal organisations and has worked across a number of projects and programs including involvement in the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners Land Management Board, Tackling Indigenous Smoking programs, lead facilitator in the Coach Early learning Years program as well as many other health promotion projects. Lena is particularly passionate about working with children and believes in the power of creating healthy lifestyle ambassadors for the next generation.


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