On Australia Day, 1938, a crowd of over a thousand people marched through the streets of Sydney. The crowd was responding the 150th anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet - declaring it the first Day of Mourning, to protest against the treatment of Aboriginal Australians. The group declared:
"WE, representing THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA, assembled in Conference at the Australian Hall, Sydney, on the 26th day of January, 1938, this being the 150th Anniversary of the whitemen's seizure of our country, HEREBY MAKE PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years, AND WE APPEAL to the Australian Nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, and we ask for a new policy which will raise our people to FULL CITIZEN STATUS and EQUALITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY."
The Day of Mourning, then known as Aborigines Day, was observed on the Sunday before Australia Day from 1940 to 1955. It was from out of this day that the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) evolved, and established NAIDOC Week in July each year.
During NAIDOC Week each year, local communities throughout Australia host activities, usually culminating in the National NAIDOC Awards. NAIDOC Week is both a time of advocacy, and a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history.
Each year the National Committee declares a theme to reflect upon for the week, and to focus local and national activities. The NAIDOC Week theme in 2020 is ‘Always Was, Always Will Be.’
Due to public safety concerns, the NAIDOC Committee has announced that NAIDOC Week will be celebrated from 8 to 15 November 2020.
Always Was, Always Will Be
The human history of Australia stretches back over 60,000 years – as the first Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are custodians of the oldest continuous living culture on earth. The 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia is an opportunity to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, as well as the meeting of cultures that began on our shores 250 years ago. The anniversary commemorations are undertaken with a commitment to truth telling, to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to show the many perspectives of the voyage, and to exploring this moment in our history.