Tuesday, May 16, 2017


NAIDOC means « National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee ». NAIDOC week is an annual week in July in which Australian people commemorate the achievements of Aboriginals. It is organized in Australia and specifically in indigenous communities but also in government agencies or schools, because all Australians celebrate this week. During this week, Australians can do a lot of things to learn about Aboriginals, such as inviting an Indigenous Australian at school or at your workplace, listening to Indigenous music or watching an aboriginal film, creating your own Aboriginal art or reading a book about Aboriginal peoples. At the end of the week, NAIDOC Committee supervises the National NAIDOC Awards, a ceremony during which famous Indigenous Australians are awarded prizes in different categories such as “Person of the Year”.

Each year, a new theme, chosen by the National Committee, is celebrated. Therefore, it makes each edition unique and special. The 2017 theme, Our Languages Matter, focuses on the role of Indigenous languages. Unfortunately, most of these languages have died. Member of committee Anne Martin says language preservation is essential. Each language has its own history and has to be transmitted.

During NAIDOC Week, it is common to find people wearing black, yellow and red outfits. Those colours are found in the Australian Aboriginal flag. Designed by Harold Thomas, it received legal recognition in 1994. Its yellow circle represents the sun which gives life to the people. The black top represents the population and its red part represents earth. The Torres Strait Islander Flag recognised in 1995 is also an indigenous flag and is composed of four colours: green for the land, black for the people, blue for the see and white for peace.

But who are the Indigenous peoples? Australia counts 500 different Aboriginal civilizations and they first settled in this country 45,000 years ago. During the 18th century, their territories were invaded by the British who first tried to assimilate them into their culture. It did not work so they put up fences to restrict access to the territory.

NAIDOC Week’s history begins in the 1920s with the boycott of Australia Day [i] by some Aboriginal groups who did not agree with the low status they had been given. In 1932 appeared the AAL [ii] to help them make progress but the government did not grant the Aboriginal’s request for recognition. William Cooper, AAL founder, reacted by seeking assistance to promote “Aborigines Day [iii]” as an annual event. In 1956, NADOC [iv] was established and a day in July was devoted to the heritage of Aboriginals. Nineteen years later, NADOC started to take place over a one-week period [vi]. In 1991, the Islanders [vii] were introduced so the name turned into NAIDOC [viii].    

   In conclusion, NAIDOC Week is a symbolic and iconic event in Australia that is not to be missed!

                                                                            Ceyda Avci, Emilie Lambert and Khadija Maitti.


[i] Australia Day: official National Day of Australia, celebrated every year on 26 January. Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Day
[ii] Australian Aboriginies League
[iii] First Sunday in July
[iv] National Aborigines Day Observance Committee.
[vi] From the first to the second Sunday in July.
[vii] Islanders: indigenous people living in Queensland (Australia). Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torres_Strait_Islanders
[vi] National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.

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