NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is a time of remembrance and celebration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that is held every year in early July.
Each NAIDOC Week has its own theme showcasing an element important to Aboriginal lives and culture, which often gives focus for Aboriginal activities throughout the year. This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’.
NAIDOC Week has its origins in early Aboriginal activism. The Aborigines’ Day of Mourning on 26 January 26 1938 (the 150th Anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet), was an action which saw Aboriginal people in Sydney march in ‘silent protest from the Town Hall to the Australian Hall in Elizabeth Street’.
After the march, the Aborigines’ Progressive Association (of which this writer’s father – Bert Groves – was President in later years) held a meeting titled “Australian Aborigines Conference: Sesqui-centenary: Day of Mourning and Protest to be held in The Australian Hall, Sydney on Wednesday, 26th January, 1938”.
Jack Patten, the first president of the Aborigines’ Progressive Association, chaired the meeting. Some of the other people attending the conference were William Ferguson, Doug Nicholls, William Cooper, Jack Kinchela, Margaret Tucker, Pearl Gibbs, Bert Groves, and Jack Johnson.
It is from this meeting that a National Day of Mourning was established, and continued to be observed by Aboriginal people in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide for many years.
In 1957, a National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was established, and decided to move the date from January to July.
‘Islander’ was added to the name in 1991 to include Torres Strait Islander people. This new name has become the title for the whole week, not just the day. Each year, a theme is chosen to reflect the important issues and events for NAIDOC Week.
By Aroha Groves
To celebrate NAIDOC Week, Blacktown City Council presents the 2017 NAIDOC Family Day:
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
11 am – 4 pm
Blacktown Showground Precinct
Download the NAIDOC History Timeline.
NAIDOC NAIDOC History
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Day of Mourning and Protest Aborigines Conference – 75th Anniversary
The writer’s own historical family knowledge
The Australian Aboriginal League float in the 1947 May Day procession. Identified, left to right: Miss Leila Lord, Mr Tasman Dohti (holding a sign which reads “Burn our welfare board”), Miss Alice Groves (holding a sign which reads “United war divided peace”), Miss Delys Cross, Mr Herbert Groves, wearing his Second World War uniform as protest; he served under the number NX200798 between 1943 and 1945 (holding a sign which reads “Free to fight but not to drink”), and Mr Athol Lester (holding a sign which reads “Our famous 1947 Australian All Blacks”). The Australian Aboriginal League was formed in Melbourne in 1932 by William Cooper, from Cummeragunga, to protest the conditions under which Aboriginal people were forced to live. Courtesy Australian War Memorial.