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Like many nations, Australia’s history of indigenous peoples is a complex and difficult one. For many Australians with Aboriginal or Islander roots, NAIDOC Week holds a special significance in bringing awareness, remembrance and honor to a large number of people. 

History of National NAIDOC Week

The background of NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week can be traced back to efforts in the 1920s when native groups fighting for Aboriginal rights staged protests against the treatment of indigenous Australians. By 1932, William Cooper had founded the Australian Aboriginal League (AAL), petitioning King George V and the government for help, but their efforts were largely ignored.

Australia Day in 1938 ushered in a protest in the streets of Sydney, known as the Day of Mourning and considered one of the first major civil rights protests in the world. The idea sprang forth to make this an annual event and it eventually became known as Aborigines Day – not only a day of protest but also a day to celebrate and remember the unique culture and history of the indigenous people of Australia.

The National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed in the 1950s and, in 1975, the event grew in length by moving from just one day to a week-long celebration that takes place in the beginning of July. By the early 1990s, the term “Islanders” was added to expand the reach and scope of the event to include the people from the Torres Strait, becoming NAIDOC Week.

Each year, NAIDOC Week is celebrated with a specific theme that shines a light on a special aspect of Aboriginal and Islander culture. Some themes in past years have included:

  • Keep the Fire Burning! (2024)
  • For Our Elders (2023)
  • Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! (2022)
  • Always Was, Always Will Be (2020)

How to Celebrate National NAIDOC Week

Get excited about celebrating the indigenous people groups who were native to Australia and other lands in honor of NAIDOC. Check out some of these and other ideas to participate:

Attend NAIDOC Week Cultural Events

Many educational and awareness events take place during NAIDOC Week, so individuals, families and community groups are encouraged to get involved. Universities, schools, community centers and many other spaces will hold events in cities and towns across the country. Check out the NAIDOC website for more information about participating in each year’s gatherings and events. Those organizations or groups who are hosting local events can share information on the website to gain media attention. 

Host a Culturally Inspired Event

An excellent way to get involved with celebrating National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee Week might be to host a gathering for friends, family, or larger groups of people in the community. Encourage friends to learn about indigenous people groups ahead of time, bring a dish made from Islander recipes and then watch a film together that captures the message of indigenous people groups. 

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