As an Indigenous leader at the Gold Coast SUNS, NAIDOC Week has a special significance to Sean Lemmens.
The 26-year-old sees it as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous people, but also as a chance to help educate his teammates and the community on Indigenous culture.
Lemmens admits he is still learning himself about many aspects of his culture, but encouraged others to start conversations in their own lives to continue the education process.
“I think just in general you don’t know what you don’t know so education is the first step,” Lemmens told SUNS Media.
“Continue to ask questions, sit down and have a talk to someone.
“Even though I’m an Indigenous person, it doesn’t mean that I know everything and have the answers to everything.
“But I’m willing to sit down and talk and educate the things that I do know.
“The boys at the club are amazing, they always sit down and ask questions about where my family are from, totems etc.
“Just conversations like that are really healthy I think.”
The SUNS defender has spent his entire career under the mentorship of Jarrod Harbrow, who has been a champion of Indigenous education since joining the club in 2010.
But with Lemmens now in his eighth season as an AFL footballer, he sees an opportunity to step up and pass on his knowledge to the next generation of Indigenous footballers coming through.
“We’ve got massive leaders like Jarrod Harbrow at the footy club,” Lemmens said.
“It’s pretty hard to be underneath him and come through and not be a leader in a way.
“I’ve known him for a long time now and he’s instilled a lot of strong values in me and that’s just something I want to pass along like he has.”
NAIDOC Week runs from July 4-11, with the theme for 2021 being Heal Country, in a bid to raise awareness and seek greater protections for our lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage.