It’s NAIDOC Week, a time of celebration and action! NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
NAIDOC Week as we now know it was born when in 1955 when the Day of Mourning or Aborigines Day was moved from January to the first week of July, as it was decided the day should not simply be a day of protest but also a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Cultural and societal change continued at a slow pace over the following decades which saw the successful 1967 referendum. In 1974, the NAIDOC committee was composed entirely of Aboriginal members for the first time ever.
The following year, it was decided that the event should cover a week, from the first to second Sunday in July. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s growing public awareness and support saw the form of NAIDOC change again. This brings us to today where the National NAIDOC Committee has made key decisions on national celebrations each year and has representatives from most Australian states and territories.
Today we also see a growing interest by the wider Australian population to engage with and celebrate NAIDOC Week. But the origins of the day have not been lost, along with the week expressing cultural pride and celebration for Indigenous communities it still also aims to increase awareness on Aboriginal issues, reflected in the annual NAIDOC Week Theme.
This year’s theme is Get up! Stand up! Show up! The theme calls for all Australians to continue advocating for systematic change. “We all must continue to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! for systemic change and keep rallying around our mob, our Elders, our communities. Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, Constitutional change, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, or calling out racism—we must do it together.” explains the NAIDOC Committee.
Get up! Stand up! Show up! also celebrates the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who have driven and led change in our communities over generations. In honour of NAIDOC Week this year we reached out to the Welcome to Country community and asked artists, Elders, knowledge holders and story tellers what NAIDOC Week means to them and how we can all Get Up! Stand up! Show up!
“Our multicultural country all need to work together to move forward with reconciliation. It means to respect, embrace and preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It’s time we all take responsibility and contribute to making change within our own workplaces and community groups.” – Simon Thornalley, Saltwater Eco Tours
“For me NAIDOC is a chance to celebrate where we are as a people, and in the context of the education space where Riley Callie Resources operates, it’s about bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to the forefront of the classroom, and facilitating opportunities for children to learn from the world’s oldest living culture.” – Deborah Hoger, Riley Callie Resources
“NAIDOC Week to me is like a beacon in our calendar year to immerse ourselves in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures around Australia. A time to learn, a time to connect and for our mob a time to preserve and share our rich and ancient cultures. I encourage all people to engage in NAIDOC week but also implore everyone to seek your own immersive Aboriginal cultural experiences more than once a year!” – Bart Pigram – Narlijia Experiences Broome
“NAIDOC week for me is about remembering and paying respect all the people who had the courage to stand up and made change.” – Tim Selwyn, Girri Girra
“It means the best week of the year, busy, fun filled and a little bit crazy. But more seriously it means remembering our old ones and how they have fought for our futures, it always reminds me that there is still a job to be done. While we have come a long way, I think there is a long way to go. I would love to see the broader Australian population supporting our products, our businesses, our culture and embracing as a part of who we all are in this country – please protect our culture and all it stands for.” – Amanda Healy, Kirrikin
“NAIDOC to me is a celebration of our survival, we are still here after all that our community has lived through since invasion/colonisation. It’s about continuing our fight to be recognised in the constitution. We want a Treaty for our people.” – Mick Harding – Ngarga Warendj
“When you live and breathe it, NAIDOC generates presence for our communities. We’re getting more and more traction as the years go on. But to be honest, I’d like to see NAIDOC Week spread across the whole year. There should be pockets of these ongoing celebrations across the year. I’ve got a saying: make it neutral, rather than normal. There is some amazing work going on around the country. What I’m trying to say is we need a bit more cohesiveness. There’s more to do, more than just NAIDOC week. For people who want to get involved, I say: engage with the community. Invest in it. Not just from a monetary point of view, but also time and energy and learning. It’s 2022, and there’s never been a better time to engage with Aboriginal businesses.” – Dwayne Bannon Harris, Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness
“NAIDOC week is a great opportunity for the country to stop and reflect to learn more about the true Australian history. We hope that in the years to come that NAIDOC Week will not be required as we work towards a more inclusive Australia.” – Clint Miller, Worn Gundidj
Moving into the future if we are to achieve meaningful change as a society, we need to see non-Indigenous support the Indigenous community. This support can take the shape of cultural celebration, embracing the true history of Australia and actively participating in the Reconciliation process through support of The Uluru Statement and the state-based treaty processes. To reflect this idea we also spoke to Welcome to Country allies to hear their thoughts on NAIDOC Week.
“NAIDOC is an opportunity to celebrate Australia’s amazing First Nations people, their achievements and strength. Personally, I use the time to learn by engaging in First Nations art/music, which reminds me that we need to do more to celebrate Australia’s incredible cultures, languages and stories. It’s also a time to take action! Don’t wait for others. It’s up to each of us to show up for First Nations people every day. Just start! Once you start learning and exploring, you’ll never stop. Read an article, donate to a cause, start to take action today and every day. We need to do the work”. – Leigh Barnes, CCO Intrepid Travel.
“NAIDOC week is about celebrating the countless ways First Nations culture enriches our lives in Australia. It’s a time for everyone to acknowledge and learn from the traditional owners of the land. Whether you celebrate at home or in the community, there are lots of ways you can honour the history, culture and achievements of First Nations people during NAIDOC Week – from flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on your front lawn through to booking an Indigenous travel experience. Beyond NAIDOC Week, we can look for more opportunities to listen to, and learn from, First Nations people, whether that’s through art, writing or directly from community leaders.” – Eric Lassen, CEO PayPal Australia
What does NAIDOC Week mean to you and how will you celebrate this week? Why not book an experience and engage directly with First Nations cultures or buy a product and support a First Nations artists, creator or art centre.