NAIDOC Week

8th-15th November 2020

2020 theme

Always Was, Always Will Be.

 recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years. 

Always Was, Always Will Be. 

recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

We are spiritually and culturally connected to this country.

This country was criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists.

Australia has the world’s oldest oral stories. The First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremony and invented unique technologies. We built and engineered structures - structures on Earth - predating well-known sites such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.

Our adaptation and intimate knowledge of Country enabled us to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.

Always Was, Always Will Be. acknowledges that hundreds of Nations and our cultures covered this continent. All were managing the land - the biggest estate on earth - to sustainably provide for their future.

Through ingenious land management systems like fire stick farming we transformed the harshest habitable continent into a land of bounty.

NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 - with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.

The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples.

Our coastal Nations watched and interacted with at least 36 contacts made by Europeans prior to 1770. Many of them resulting in the charting of the northern, western and southern coastlines – of our lands and our waters.

For us, this nation’s story began at the dawn of time.

NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.

It’s about seeing, hearing and learning the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history of this country - which is Australian history. We want all Australians to celebrate that we have the oldest continuing cultures on the planet and to recognise that our sovereignty was never ceded.

Always Was, Always Will Be.

NAIDOC Week Events

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held around the country each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in our Indigenous communities but also in increasing number of government agencies, community organisations, local councils, workplaces, schools and sporting groups.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The Australian Aboriginal Flag

History

The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia, on National Aborigines Day in July 1971. It became the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after it was first flown there in 1972. Since then, it has become a widely recognised symbol of the unity and identity of Aboriginal people.

In view of the flag’s wide acceptance and importance in Australian society, the Commonwealth took steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, in July 1995 the Aboriginal flag was proclaimed a ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953.

In 1997 the Federal Court recognised Harold Thomas as the author of the flag.

Form and symbolism

The Aboriginal flag is divided horizontally into halves. The top half is black and the lower half red. There is a yellow circle in the centre of the flag.

The meanings of the three colours in the flag, as stated by Harold Thomas, are:

  • Black – represents the Aboriginal people of Australia.

  • Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector.

  • Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land.

Display

The Aboriginal flag should be flown or displayed with the black at the top and the red at the bottom. Any questions on how and when to display the Australian Aboriginal Flag should be directed to the Commonwealth Flag Officer in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Further information on flags is available on the ‘Its an honour’ website.

Copyright

The Australian Aboriginal flag is protected under copyright and may be reproduced only in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 or with the permission of Harold Thomas.

Permission is not required to fly the Australian Aboriginal Flag.

Torres Strait

Islander Flag

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islanders. Adopted in 1992, it was the winning entry in a design competition run by the Island Coordinating Council, a Queensland statutory body representing the community councils in the Torres Strait.

In the same year it was recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and given equal prominence with the Australian Aboriginal Flag.

In July 1995 the Australian Government recognised it, with the Australian Aboriginal Flag, as an official ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953.

Form and symbolism

The Torres Strait Islander flag has three horizontal panels, with green at the top and bottom and blue in between. These panels are divided by thin black lines. A white Dhari (traditional headdress) sits in the centre, with a five-pointed white star beneath it.

The meanings of the colours in the flag are:

  • Green – represents the land

  • Black – represents the Indigenous peoples

  • Blue - represents the sea

  • White – represents peace

The Dhari represents Torres Strait Islander people and the five-pointed star represents the five island groups within the Torres Strait. The star is also a symbol for seafaring people as it is used in navigation.

Display

Any questions on how and when to display the Torres Strait Islander flag should be directed to the Commonwealth Flag Officer in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Copyright

The copyright of the Torres Strait Island flag is owned by the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC).

The TSIRC gives permission for requests to reproduce the Torres Strait Flag subject to the following conditions:

  • That, where appropriate, recognition is given to the original designer, the late Mr Bernard Namok.

  • The original PMS colours are used.

  • That permission must be received in writing from the TSIRC, prior to its use.

Permission is not required to fly the Torres Strait Islander Flag, however, any questions on how and when to display the Torres Strait Islander Flag should be directed to the Torres Strait Island Regional Council.

Further information on flags is available on the Its an honour website.

NAIDOC history

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.

1920 – 1930

Before the 1920s, Aboriginal rights groups boycotted Australia Day (26 January) in protest against the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians. By the 1920s, they were increasingly aware that the broader Australian public were largely ignorant of the boycotts. If the movement were to make progress, it would need to be active.

Several organisations emerged to fill this role, particularly the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA) in 1924 and the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) in 1932. Their efforts were largely overlooked, and due to police harassment, the AAPA abandoned their work in 1927.

In 1935, William Cooper, founder of the AAL, drafted a petition to send to King George V, asking for special Aboriginal electorates in Federal Parliament. The Australian Government believed that the petition fell outside its constitutional responsibilities.

1938

On Australia Day, 1938, protestors marched through the streets of Sydney, followed by a congress attended by over a thousand people. One of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world, it was known as the Day of Mourning.

Following the congress, a deputation led by William Cooper presented Prime Minister Joseph Lyons with a proposed national policy for Aboriginal people. This was again rejected because the Government did not hold constitutional powers in relation to Aboriginal people.

After the Day of Mourning, there was a growing feeling that it should be a regular event. In 1939 William Cooper wrote to the National Missionary Council of Australia to seek their assistance in supporting and promoting an annual event.

More information about the Day of Mourning can be found at the AIATSIS website.

1940 – 1955

From 1940 until 1955, the Day of Mourning was held annually on the Sunday before Australia Day and was known as Aborigines Day. In 1955 Aborigines Day was shifted to the first Sunday in July after it was decided the day should become not simply a protest day but also a celebration of Aboriginal culture.

1956 – 1990

Major Aboriginal organisations, state and federal governments, and a number of church groups all supported the formation of, the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC). At the same time, the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage.

In 1972, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was formed, as a major outcome of the 1967 referendum.

In 1974, the NADOC committee was composed entirely of Aboriginal members for the first time. The following year, it was decided that the event should cover a week, from the first to second Sunday in July.

In 1984, NADOC asked that National Aborigines Day be made a national public holiday, to help celebrate and recognise the rich cultural history that makes Australia unique. While this has not happened, other groups have echoed the call.

1991 – Present

With a growing awareness of the distinct cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, NADOC was expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture. The committee then became known as the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC). 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.

During the mid-1990s, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) took over the management of NAIDOC until ATSIC was disbanded on 15 April 2004.

Over the period from 2004 to 2005 there were interim arrangements, with former Senator Aden Ridgeway chairing the Committee until 2008.

Anne Martin and Ben Mitchell served as co-chairs of the National NAIDOC Committee from 2008 to 2018, when Patricia Thompson and John Paul Janke were elected the Co-Chairs.

The National NAIDOC Committee has made key decisions on national celebrations each year and has representatives from most Australian states and territories.

All information and content was sourced from:

https://www.naidoc.org.au/

This year NAIDOC week has been pushed forward from July to November due to COVID-19.

Sign this petition for an Aboriginal Cultural Educator in every school!

https://www.worldvision.com.au/ACE-EmailMP

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders as the first inhabitants and the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

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