Each year, Australians come together to celebrate NAIDOC Week and honour the history, culture, contribution and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
NAIDOC celebrations are centred on a theme chosen by the national organising committee. This year’s theme — ‘Heal Country’ — calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage. The theme also recognises that ‘Country’ is more than a place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is inherent to Aboriginal identity. ‘Country’ sustains lives in every sense — spiritually, physically and culturally.
The origins of NAIDOC Week can be traced back to the Aboriginal rights movement. On Australia Day 1938, activists marched through the streets of Sydney in protest of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. This protest was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world and it became known as the ‘Day of Mourning’. Between 1940 and 1955, the Day of Mourning was held annually on the Sunday before Australia Day and was commonly known as ‘Aborigines Day’*.
In 1955, it was decided that Aborigines Day should include a celebration of Aboriginal culture, heritage and achievement. This is now celebrated as NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC stands for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’, which was the committee originally responsible for organising the national NAIDOC Week activities. Over time, the acronym has become the name for the entire festival.
NAIDOC Week invites us all to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage. While COVID restrictions have impacted many of the planned events in our region, there are still ways to get involved. Sign up for a NAIDOC webinar or online event, take some time to learn about your local Aboriginal community’s history and culture, watch an Indigenous movie, tune in to NITV or check out some of the talented Indigenous musicians or artists from our region.
Also, join us on Facebook (see below) as we celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our region.
You can find out more about NAIDOC Week and how to get involved by visiting the NAIDOC website.
*This term is no longer acceptable and is considered derogatory.