Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Calendar
Culturally Significant dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
On 13 February 2008 the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd MP delivered his national apology to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government. The apology marked an important milestone in Australia’s history. By validating the experiences of the Stolen Generations, the foundations have been laid for healing to take place and for a reconciled Australia in which everyone belongs.
15 March 2018: National Close the Gap Day
National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) is a national day of action to pledge support for achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.
21 March: Harmony Day
Harmony Day celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity and is held every year to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It is a day for all Australians to embrace cultural diversity and to share what we have in common.
26 May: Sorry Day
The Bringing them home report recommended (Recommendation No 7.a) that a National Sorry Day be held each year on 26 May ‘to commemorate the history of forcible removals and its effects’. As a result of this recommendation the community-based organisation the National Sorry Day Committee (NSDC) was formed.
26 May – 3 June: National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is held annually and celebrates the rich culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This week is a time to reflect on achievements so far and the things which must still be done to achieve reconciliation. NRW was initiated in 1996 to provide a special focus for nationwide reconciliation activities and to build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.
The Week is timed to coincide with two significant dates in Australia’s history, which provide strong symbols of our aspirations for reconciliation: 27 May marks the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and 3 June marks the anniversary of the High Court’s judgment in the 1992 Mabo case.
27 May: Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
In 1967 over 90% of Australians voted in a Referendum to remove clauses from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Lander Australians. The Referendum is extremely significant to Indigenous Australians. It represented the end of official discrimination and the promise of full and equal citizenship. The overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote also signalled that white Australians were ready to embrace social and political reform, and expected the Federal Government to take the lead.
3 June: Mabo Day
This day commemorates the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision in the case brought by Eddie Mabo and others, which recognised the existence in Australia of Native title rights. Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo’s name is synonymous with native title rights. His 10 year campaign helped to overturn a legal fiction that Australia was ‘terra nullius’ (a land belonging to on one) at the time of British colonisation.
1 July: Coming of the Light
The Coming of the Light is a holiday celebrated by Torres Strait Islanders on 1 July each year. It marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in the Torres Strait; the missionaries landed at Erub Island on 1 July 1871. It recognises the adoption of Christianity through island communities during the late nineteenth century.
First full week of July: NAIDOC Week
NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July, the acronym 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 Indigenous Australians. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.
We encourage all Australians to participate in the celebrations and activities that take place across the nation during NAIDOC Week.NAIDOC Week is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and an opportunity to recognise the contribution of Indigenous Australians in various fields.
4 August: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.