What is NAIDOC Week?

NAIDOC Week is one of the best opportunities to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture, talent and resilience.

NAIDOC week, which is celebrated annually in the full first week of July, stands for ‘National Aboriginal and Islanders Day of Observance Committee’. The week began in the 1957 when Aboriginal organisations, state and federal governments and a number of church groups came together to support its formation. However, its roots can be traced back to the 1920s and the 1938 Day of Mourning march and conference.

It’s a week when Australia celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and communities and recognises the valuable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our country. Amnesty activists across the country get out into communities during NAIDOC week to support community events, celebrate culture and build valuable relationships.

The National NAIDOC Committee has announced the 2017 National NAIDOC theme – ‘Our Languages Matter’.

“The 2017 theme aims to celebrate the essential role that Indigenous languages play in both cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song,’ the Committee says.

Check out the NAIDOC week events calendar to find out what’s happening in your city.

How Amnesty’s groups celebrated NAIDOC week in 2016

In NSW, the Redfern Amnesty group held a stall at the NAIDOC Week celebrations where they encouraged young attendees to paint a picture to contribute to their Healing Tree.

Amnesty’s National Annual General Meeting was held at Tandanya Gallery, which is Australia’s oldest Aboriginal-owned and managed Arts Centre. Here, delegates from around the country came together with the local Kaurna community to to learn a Kaurna phrase “Ngadlu naalityangka kumangka yuwanthi”, which roughly translates as “We stand together as one”.

A 'Healing Tree' (left) displays handwritten message; and Hayley, Kate and Cedric pose together at the NAIDOC Opening Ceremony in WA (right).
Members of the WA Indigenous Rights group Hayley and Kate joined Cedric Jacobs at the NAIDOC Opening Ceremony. © AI

The ACT Indigenous Rights group launched with the nation’s first ‘Community is Everything’ photo exhibition, showcasing the stories of Indigenous kids and the success of Indigenous-led community solutions.

Amnesty supporters pose for a photo together (left); Amnesty supporters hold an Amnesty yellow banner during a march (right).
Victorian Action Centre staff along with Rebecca Langley from the CIE Advisory Group and the Branch President, Marcio, at the NAIDOC Week March in their area. QLD activists in Townsville, Jenny, Jeanie and Paul, are pictured below behind the Amnesty banner getting ready for their NAIDOC Week parade.

In South Australia, the Unley group held a stall at NAIDOC week celebrations and Meaningful Movies also hosted a film screening of Star Stories of the Dreaming.

Check out the Amnesty events page to see what’s coming up in 2017 or see other ways you can celebrate the day.