NAIDOC Week is a national event that celebrates the history, culture, and achievements of the Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islanders. It is a celebration that encourages the community to come together and participate in the many different events and cultural activities hosted by communities, workplaces, and schools.
NAIDOC originally stood for the “National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.” This committee was once responsible for organizing national activities during NAIDOC week, and its acronym has since become the name of the week.
NAIDOC Week 2021
NAIDOC Week 2021 Celebrations will take place from Sunday 4th July to Sunday 11th July.
This year’s NAIDOC national theme Heal Country…! calls on all to continue efforts to protect our land, our waters, our holy places, and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
NAIDOC Week 2021 invites everyone to harness the First Nations cultural knowledge and understanding of the country as part of Australia’s national heritage and respect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ culture and values.
NAIDOC Week History
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced back to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s who sought to raise awareness of the status and treatment of Aboriginal Australians and the Torres Strait Islander in the wider community.
NAIDOC Week History Timeline
1920 – 1930
Prior to the 1920s, Native American rights groups boycotted Australia Day (January 26) to protest the status and treatment of indigenous Australians. By the 1920s, they became increasingly aware that the broader Australian public was largely ignoring the boycotts. If the movement wanted to move forward, it would have to be active.
Several organizations were formed to fill this role, most notably the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association in 1924 and the Australian Aboriginal League in 1932. Their efforts were largely ignored, and the AAPA abandoned its activities in 1927 due to police harassment.
In 1935, William Cooper, the founder of AAL, drafted a petition to be sent to King George V. The Australian Government believed that the petition was outside its constitutional responsibilities.
On Australia Day 1938, protesters marched through the streets of Sydney, followed by a convention attended by over a thousand people. It was one of the first major civil rights gatherings globally and became known as the Day of Mourning.
Following the Congress, a delegation led by William Cooper presented Prime Minister Joseph Lyons with a proposal for a national policy for the Aborigines. This was again rejected because the government had no constitutional powers over the Aborigines.
After the day of mourning, the feeling grew that it should become a regular event. In 1939, William Cooper wrote to the National Missionary Council of Australia asking for their assistance in assisting and promoting an annual event.
1940 – 1955
From 1940 to 1955, the Day of Mourning was held annually on the Sunday before Australia Day and was known as Aboriginal Day. In 1955, Aboriginal Day was moved to the first Sunday in July after it was decided that the day would be a day of protest and a celebration of Aboriginal culture.
1956 – 1990
Large Aboriginal organizations, state and federal governments, and many church groups all supported the formation of the National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee (NADOC). At the same time, the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for the Aborigines and their heritage.
In 1972, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was established as a significant outcome of the 1967 referendum.
In 1974, for the first time, the NADOC Committee consisted entirely of aboriginal members. Next year it was decided to cover the festival for a week from the first to the second Sunday in July.
In 1984, NADOC asked for National Aboriginal Day to be made a national holiday to celebrate and recognize the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique. This did not happen, but other groups responded to the call.
1991 – Present
With growing awareness of the different cultural histories of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, NADOC was expanded to recognize the people and culture of the Torres Strait Islanders. The committee then became known as the National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC). This new name has become the title for the whole week, not just for the day. Each year a theme is chosen that reflects the main themes and events of NAIDOC week.
In the mid-1990s, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) took over the management of NAIDOC until ATSIC was dissolved on April 15, 2004.
There were interim agreements in the period from 2004 to 2005, with former Senator Aden Ridgeway chairing the committee until 2008.
Anne Martin and Ben Mitchell co-chair the NAIDOC National Committee from 2008 to 2018, when Patricia Thompson and John Paul Janke were elected co-chairs.
The NAIDOC National Committee has made important decisions about national celebrations each year and has representatives from most Australia’s states and territories.
How to Celebrate NAIDOC Week
Here are some ideas on how to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021.
- Display the National NAIDOC Poster or other indigenous posters in your classroom or workspace.
- Start your own hall of fame with indigenous role models.
- Hear local musicians or watch a film about Aboriginal history and the Torres Strait Islander.
- Take your own indigenous quiz.
- Study a famous Indigenous Australian.
- Research the traditional indigenous owners of your area.
- Study Aboriginal crafts and the Torres Strait Islander.
- Work with an Aboriginal artist or the Torres Strait Islander to create a piece of art representing the theme.
- Host an art competition for your school or community.
- Research indigenous peoples’ history online or visit your library to find books on the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait.
- Visit local indigenous sites of importance or interest.
- Learn the meanings of local or national place names and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words.
- Invite local indigenous elders to speak at your school, workplace or offer a welcome to the country.
- Invite an indigenous athlete or artist to visit you.
- Invite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander dancers to perform.
- Host a community BBQ or lunch.
- Hold a flag-raising ceremony.
- Organize a smoking ceremony.
Visit official website to check NAIDOC Week 2021 Events.