Shoes are amazing; an integral, indicative part of cultures across the world and one of the most alluring aspects of dressing up. Who doesn’t enjoy a new pair of good-looking strappy sandals or the sense of presence you feel in a kickass pair of boots? Whilst the shoe has been with us for good reason these last 40,000 years, perhaps it is time to reconsider the benefits of taking them off every now and again.
Traditionally, with rare exceptions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples have been known for their barefoot culture. Whilst the technology of shoe construction was undoubtedly available to the oldest continuous culture in the world, the choice was to remain firmly in touch with this earth. There are no simple reasons for this.
The answer lies in the rich reciprocal relationship to Country in which Country is seen as a living breathing entity of which we are part. Walking and singing up Country is the way things continue to be done around here. When we walk barefoot and dance on the ground, we are respecting, communicating and connecting to the First Nations people who have never lost their respect for Mother Earth.
In Australia, the barefoot culture may feel strange to tourists and visitors from other continents. In many countries around the world, going barefoot is strictly avoided and the soles of the feet may be considered rude, dirty and disrespectful.
However, taking your shoes off may offer many health benefits such as:
- Reducing blood viscosity to positively support cerebrovascular status
- Minimising impact injuries
- Addressing immune response, wound healing and chronic inflammation
- Regulation of sleeping patterns.
Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation has called for us all to take our shoes off in a simple act of respect for Country and the Cultures in the spirit of GO BAREFOOT ON BELONGING DAY to be held on Thursday, 26 January, 2023 and the years thereafter.
We encourage you to take your shoes off and get involved.
“Belonging Day. That’s what I’d like to call it.... as everyone belongs. Your human existence will only last for a short space of time and from there you go back to the spiritual essence where everyone is equal. There is no you’re greater than me or I’m greater than you. You just are.”
- Jrumpinjinbah, Yuin elder 
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