Keep the fire burning! Blak, Loud & Proud – NAIDOC 2024

Jul 4, 2024

NAIDOC week is here and at Murawin we always take this time to celebrate and enjoy connecting with community, but it is also an important time to reflect and to remember the history of the week and the continued fight faced by First Nations Peoples throughout Australia.

This year’s theme, KEEP THE FIRE BURNING! BLAK, LOUD AND PROUD, speaks on so many levels to the past, the present and the future. It harks back to NAIDOC’s origin as a day of protest for First Nations peoples rights. It incorporates Blak excellence and resilience – of standing strong in our cultural identity and practices and celebrating our communities. It touches on the progress that has been made, whilst acknowledging that there is much  work to be done. But it also captures the incredibly powerful metaphor of fire that has so many meanings and interpretations in different contexts and is a vitally important part of First Nations cultures

“I love this theme, because it is unapologetic.”

What makes this year’s theme so powerful is it’s almost limitless potential to be interpreted in many ways, continuing our cultural practices of meaning making through story, yarning and sharing.

Inspired by diving into the resources of several amazing Indigenous organisations which provide a magnitude of resources for learning and celebrating First Nations cultures and heritage, Riley Callie Resources,  Common Ground and Fire Sticks, as well as the beautiful and rich theme, we at Murawin decided to reflect on fire and its literally, cultural and metaphoric meanings and interpretations.

Fire provides light (and warmth) in the dark. This speaks of hope even in the darkest times and how vitally important it is for the future of our people, communities and Countries, that we keep hope alive. It also speaks to our history and some of the darkest times we have been through. Without the hope, resilience and fight of those who came before us, we wouldn’t be where we are today and the same will be true of us.

“Every year the NAIDOC theme seems just as relevant as the years before and this year is no different. It is empowering and a reminder for the younger generation to remember the strength and resilience of our Elders and all they fought for – to continue that and call out injustices, celebrate and be proud of who you are.”

The term “keep the fire burning” has long been used by First Nations activists and it is now more important than ever to keep the fire inside burning and continue to advocate for change. The term expresses the resilience and determination shown by communities in the continued fight for equality and justice and what is right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“We must continue to stand up and agitate for equity . Never stop being loud. Use our voices for change.”

To keep a fire alight, it must be actively attended to and have fuel added to it, so it also reminds us of the collective responsibility of us all to keep the fire of change and self-determination alight.

We are reminded that no matter what, the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will and must continue…

Riley Callie Resources – 

After fire, there is new growth. Culturally, fire is  significant in caring for all Country and First Nations cultures have always known fire has a critical role in maintaining balance within eco and environmental  systems. To be respected, not feared and to be used to keep Country in continually rejuvenating itself.

“For tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have managed Country with fire, using fire sticks to light carefully timed burns in the right places to enhance the health of the land and its people.”

Fire Sticks – 

Metaphorically, it speaks of the societal changes needed to enhance life for all. Removing barriers, injustices, legislation and more to make room for all people to have the opportunity to thrive.

With fire, there is always smoke, and it is just as important as the flames themselves. Smoke cleanses and heals the spirit and is highly significant in First Nations cultures.

The importance of smoke is beautifully captured in Common Ground’s short film “Sacred Smoke”

Around a fire has always been a space to yarn share and reflect. Whether it’s passing of cultural knowledge across generations or unwinding and having a good time or silence and self-reflection, the campfire is a safe space.

It also serves as an invitation to others to come and to sit, listen and learn around the fire and connect with each other. Once you have taken a seat and are enjoying the warmth and light of the fire, you also share in that collective responsibility of tending to that upkeep and maintenance of that fire.

“Keep the fire burning means maintenance of culture. Cultural knowledge is often shared around a fire. Sitting around a fire is a time for reflection, sharing and learning”

Fire comes in many forms. There are the sparks that exist only for a moment but provide that essential start to any fire. There are the flames of all sizes, intensities and heat depending on the conditions they are in. There are the hot coals that burn long and slow. There are embers that float away and spread the fire.

This represents the multitude of different types of people we need to keep the fires of change burning. We need the loud activists, on the streets ensuring our voices are heard. We need the quiet people working behind the scenes on systemic change. We need the big picture but also the people making changes in ultra specific areas. We need the dreamers and the doers. None more, or less, important than the other. We need all people to keep the fire burning. 

This NAIDOC week, the team at Murawin will be reflecting on the past and the many ongoing challenges faced, but also connecting with Country, community and culture, and celebrating the present, as we look to the future.

So, this week (and every other week) let’s Keep the fire burning! Blak, Loud and Proud.

If you would like to engage with brilliant First Nations storytelling and resources, including amazing NAIDOC 2024 theme activities and learning resources, head to Riley Callie Resources – and Common Ground’s website:

If you would like to learn more and get involved in First Nations cultural fire practices, knowledge and information, head to Fire Stick’s website: