What is NAIDOC Week?

What is NAIDOC Week?
What is NAIDOC Week?

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines’ and Islanders’ Day Observance Committee, and it celebrates the rich history, diverse cultures and remarkable achievements of Australia’s First Nations people. It has become one of the most important and celebrated events in the Blak calendar.

The History of NAIDOC Week

The origins of NAIDOC can be traced back to the rise of Aboriginal rights groups in the 1920s who began protesting the treatment of First Nations people and boycotting ‘Australia Day’ (26 January). The need for activism was recognised by organisations such as the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA) and the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) however due to continued police harassment, it was difficult for the efforts of these groups to progress.

On the 26th of January 1938, protestors took to the streets of Sydney, taking part in what was to become the Day of Mourning, now recognised as one of the first major rallies in the civil rights movement. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from Australia came together to advocate for equality and citizenship rights, igniting a growing sentiment that the Day of Mourning should happen annually which resulted in the birth of Aborigines Day on the Sunday before ‘Australia Day’ between 1940 and 1955.

Up until 1954, Aborigines Day was predominantly just a protest day but by 1955, the movement shifted towards championing and celebrating Aboriginal culture, so the day was moved to the first Sunday and the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed as a result. First Nations culture is incredibly diverse and distinct and with growing awareness around this, NADOC was expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture in 1991, thus the current name NAIDOC. 

The term ‘Aborigines’ is now disused and is inaccurate and whilst NAIDOC respectfully acknowledges this, the term is still preserved in its title due to the historical significance it holds during the emergence of this week by Elders in 1938. 

NAIDOC Week Now 

Today, NAIDOC Week is celebrated throughout the first week of July every year and its premiere event is the National NAIDOC Week Awards Ceremony which recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence and achievements, the contributions that individuals have made to improve the lives of people in their community and awards those who promote First Nations issues to the community at large.

There are also many local events that happen in and around community during NAIDOC Week. Events can range from performances and exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, music and dance to food and literature. These events bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities so by attending these events, you’ll have the opportunity to celebrate First Nations cultural expression, allowing you to connect with First Nations people, communities and organisations.

This year, NAIDOC week’s theme recognises the unwavering strength and spirit of First Nations people, represented through the symbolic fire – which also embodies the connection that First Nations people have to Country, community and their cultures and traditions. "Blak, Loud and Proud" encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to embrace their heritage proudly and assert presence in society. It calls for a reclamation of narratives, an amplification of voices and an unwavering commitment to justice and equality for First Nations people. It invites all Australians to listen, learn and engage in meaningful dialogue, fostering a society where the wisdom and contributions of First Nations people are fully valued and respected.

Learn more about NAIDOC Week here

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