In the spirit of reconciliation, LiveBetter acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year. It is a week where we celebrate the First Nations Peoples of Australia and highlight the challenges that need addressing. NAIDOC Week also offers us the opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and engage with a culture that goes back thousands of years.
But where did it all begin?
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines* and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced back to the 1920s and the emergence of Aboriginal groups who sought to increase awareness of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Prior to this, Aboriginal rights groups had boycotted Australia Day (26 January) in protest against the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians, but these boycotts had fallen on deaf ears. The groups began to realise that if the movement was to make any progress, it would need to be active.
Throughout the twenties and thirties, several organisations emerged to fill this role, but without success. They ultimately abandoned their work due to police harassment.
But on 26 January 1938, while many Australians celebrated the 150th anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet, a group of over 1000 Aboriginal people gathered at Australia Hall in Sydney to call for full citizenship status and laws to improve the lives of First Nations people. This was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world and became known as the Day of Mourning.
Over the following decades, the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed, and the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage.
By 1974, the NADOC committee was for the first time composed entirely of Aboriginal members and the following year, it was decided that the event would cover a week, from the first to the second Sunday in July.
As awareness of the distinct cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples grew, NADOC was expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture, and the committee then became known as the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).
The journey that began a century ago has continued into the new millennium. In 2008 the Australian Parliament formally apologised to the Stolen Generations – those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their family and their communities through the actions of past governments. This year sees the Referendum on Constitutional Recognition and a Voice to Parliament go to the Australian people.
National NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and join in celebrations of the oldest continuous living cultures on earth. This years theme For our Elders highlights the important role Aboriginal Elders have played, and continue to play within their families, their communities, and the nation as a whole.
Why not make 2023 the year you get involved?
You can learn more about National NAIDOC Week and the events in your area by visiting https://www.naidoc.org.au
* The National NAIDOC Committee respectfully acknowledges the now defunct and inaccurate term ‘Aborigines’, whilst retaining the term in the title due to historic use by their Elders in establishing this week of commemoration in 1938. As of 1967, the ongoing registered title of the Committee became the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee.