NAIDOC week is an annual event that celebrates and recognises the history and achievements of Indigenous people in Australia. Taking place at the beginning of July, it provides an excellent opportunity for all Australians to learn about the country’s First Nations people.
The week begins with an awards night, where finalists are chosen from a pool of 200 nominees nationwide. Past winners have included notable figures like tennis star Ash Barty and actor Uncle Jack Charles. Following the awards, the celebrations continue with various events, festivals, exhibitions, and concerts held throughout the country. Individuals and groups can even organise their own events, and the official NAIDOC website provides suggestions for doing so. Teachers can also utilise SBS materials to educate their students about Indigenous culture.
Each year, NAIDOC week focuses on a specific theme, and this year’s theme is “For Our Elders.” Elders hold a significant role in Aboriginal culture, serving as keepers of cultural knowledge and sources of inspiration. The theme is accompanied by a specially designed poster, which for 2023 is a vibrant depiction of Aboriginal Elders created by artist Bobbi Lockyer.
While not yet recognised as a national holiday, NAIDOC day has a deep historical significance. It originated in the 1920s as a day of mourning, protesting against Australia Day. Over time, it evolved into a day of celebration and remembrance of Aboriginal people and their rich cultural heritage. In the 1950s, support grew for the formation of the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC), and Aboriginal Day was shifted to the first Sunday in July. Since then, NAIDOC week has become an integral part of recognising and appreciating Indigenous contributions.
Looking ahead, Australia is heading towards a significant referendum about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which aims to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution. The referendum, scheduled for late 2023, holds the potential to bring the nation together, heal past hurts, and provide better outcomes for Indigenous communities. However, opinions on the Voice vary within the Aboriginal community, with some advocating for it while others oppose it, emphasizing the need for economic development, jobs, education, and investment in communities.
Regardless of the outcome, NAIDOC week serves as a time to celebrate the history and present of the oldest continuous living culture on Earth, providing an opportunity for all Australians to appreciate and learn from Indigenous culture.