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NAIDOC Week

Warning. This article may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased. It also contains links to sites that may use images of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased.

Tracing the history of citizenship and NAIDOC Week

Tracing the history of citizenship has been inextricably linked with government policy and practice as well as Aboriginal activism.

NAIDOC originally stood for 'National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee' after a Day of Mourning was held on Australia Day, 1938. The Day of Mourning was declared due to the lack of response from the Commonwealth government to a petition from Aboriginal people in 1935 and 1937 seeking representation in the Parliament and the establishment of a national department of native affairs and state advisory councils.

Day of Mourning and Protest Conference at Australian Hall on 26 January 1938

Man [magazine], Day of Mourning and Protest Conference at Australian Hall on 26 January 1938. The organisation leaders William Ferguson is on the far left and John Patten is on the far right. Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

The first Day of Mourning, was held at the Cyprus Hellene Club in the Australian Hall. It was the first time that Aboriginal people from around Australia joined together to campaign for equality and citizenship rights. The Cyprus Hellene Club-Australian Hall was added to the National Heritage List in 2008.

From 1940 until 1955, the Sunday before Australia Day was the Day of Mourning, now known as Aborigines Day and is part of the ongoing history of NAIDOC.

In 1955 the day was shifted to the first Sunday in July and was promoted as a celebration of Indigenous culture. In 1957 National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) formed and the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage. In 1991 NADOC became NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) to recognise Torres Strait Islanders and to describe a whole week of recognition, rather than one day.

Troy Cassar-Daly

Troy Cassar-Daly performed at the NAIDOC on the Peninsula 2008 celebration. Courtesy of Troy Cassar-Daly.

Today NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia in July by all Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NAIDOC Awards are held as part of the week's celebrations.

Events are held from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, across Victoria, South Australia, Perth, throughout the Northern Territory and in Queensland as well as the ACT with the regular NAIDOC on the Peninsula.

Useful links

Listen, look and play

Flags

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations

Resources

Education

Sorry books

Last updated: 31 October 2014

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