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What is NAIDOC Week?

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  peoples.

History of NAIDOC

NAIDOC originally was an acronym for the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. The organising committee behind the day adopted this name in 1991.

However, the idea behind NAIDOC goes back to a letter written by William Cooper that was aimed at Aboriginal communities and at churches. It was written on behalf of the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association, an umbrella group for a number of Aboriginal justice movements. The association gathered together a wide circle of Aboriginal leaders including Douglas Nicholls, William Ferguson, Jack Patten and Margaret Tucker. In 1937 they were preparing for what would become the famous Day of Mourning in 1938. It not only sparked a very effective one-off protest. It also stimulated a national observance that was at first championed by churches, and is now a national celebration:

W. Cooper Hon. Sec., AAL, 43 Mackay Street, Yarraville, 27 December 1937.
Australia Day 1938 Aborigines’ Day of Mourning
The Australian Aborigines’ Progressive Association of New South Wales has called on all aborigines in the advanced stages of civilisation and culture to observe a DAY OF MOURNING concurrently with the white man’s DAY OF REJOICING to celebrate the 150th year of the coming of the white man to Australia. The aborigines, by this means, hope to call the attention to the present deplorable condition of all aborigines, of whatever stage of culture, after 150 years of British rule. It is expected that such action will create such sympathy on the part of the whites that full justice and recompense will follow.
The “DAY OF MOURNING” has been endorsed by the Australian Aborigines’ League, the Victorian body, which also looks after Federal matters, and it is expected that meetings will be held at a number of places and suitable resolutions passed. This League now asks the Christian community to help us in another way.
We know that sympathy with the aborigines is widespread and growing and, because the aboriginal knows that the goodwill of the whiteman is essential to success they seek to justify the continuance of this sympathy. We now ask all Christian denominations to observe Sunday, 3rd January as ABORIGINES’ DAY. We request that sermons be preached on this day dealing with the aboriginal people and their need of the gospel and response to it and we ask that special prayer be invoked for all missionary and other effort for the uplift of the dark people.
We regret the unavoidable delay in submitting our request, which was not avoidable in all the circumstances, but we feel that a suitable notice from you in your church press will give that wide publicity that is so essential.
Very sincerely yours,
W. Cooper
(Andrew Markus (ed) Blood From A Stone: William Cooper and the Australian Aborigines League (Monash Publications in History, Department of History, Clayton, 1986)

The Day of Mourning before Australia Day 1938 in Sydney by the AAPA and around 100 further Aboriginal people made significant impact on the national conversation and triggered an invitation for Indigenous leaders to meet with Prime Minister Joseph Lyons.

The message to the churches got through too. Certainly, some churches were observing the day by January 1940 and it was nationally observed by 1946 at the latest.

By 1957, the leaders of the movement decided to change the date from January to July. The National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) formed and the first Sunday in July became a day of remembrance and celebration for Aboriginal people and heritage. In 1991 NADOC became NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee), to recognise Torres Strait Islanders and to describe a whole week of recognition, rather than one day. The committee’s acronym has become the name of the week itself.

The NSW AECG celebrates the oldest living culture of humanity ……

NAIDOC activities at Parliament House NSW
NAIDOC activities at Parliament House NSW
NAIDOC activities at Parliament House NSW
Group painting activity at Parliament House NSW
Group painting activity at Parliament House NSW










Weaving at the Ballina/Cabbage Tree Island LAECG NAIDOC day
Weaving at the Ballina/Cabbage Tree Island LAECG NAIDOC day





Ballina/Cabbage Tree Island LAECG NAIDOC day
Ballina/Cabbage Tree Island LAECG NAIDOC day


Central Coast NAIDOC celebrations
Central Coast NAIDOC celebrations


Acknowledgement of Country

The NSW AECG Inc. acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners of this nation. We also acknowledge past, present and emerging Elders  and the continuation and celebration of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should also be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.