Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Calendar
Culturally Significant dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
26 January: Survival Day/Day of Mourning/Invasion Day
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the 26th of January is not the date to celebrate. It's a day for respecting the survival of First Nations people in Australia in the face of systematic injustice. ANTAR advocate for changing the date of Australia day to a date that can be celebrated by all.
13 February: Anniversary of the National Apology
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.
21 February: International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day recognises the importance of language and multilingualism in inclusion. This is a particularly important day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, which experienced a major loss of native languages through colonisation and dispossession.
21 March 2024: 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. The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is an agreement between the partnership between the National Federation of Reform Council (NFRC) and the Coalition of Peaks. The National Agreement outlines 17 socioeconomic targets and 4 priority reform areas that were agreed and signed by the NFRC and the Coalition of Peaks.
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.
27 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.
Reconciliation week begins on the 27th of May, which is the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which 90% of Australians voted to remove the clauses from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The 1967 Referendum is extremely significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as it represented the end of official discrimination and the promise of full and equal citizenship. The referendum also signified that non-Indigenous Australians were ready to embrace social and political reform and expected the federal government to take responsibility.
Reconciliation week finishes on the 3rd of June, which commemorates the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision in a case brought by Eddie Mabo and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The decision recognises the existence in Australia of native title rights and overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius at the time of British colonisation. Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo's name is synonymous with native title rights.
27 June: Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
As mentioned above in reconciliation week.
3 July: Mabo Day
As mentioned above in reconciliation week.
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.
4th-11th 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.
Each year, a theme for NAIDOC week is announced. The 2023 theme was 'for our elders', to recognise the work that they have done for the rights and freedom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as well as highlight that our Elders often die too young.
The 2024 theme is yet to be announced. Stay tuned!
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.
9 August: International Day of the World's Indigenous People
International day of the world's Indigenous people highlights the importance of self-determination when making decisions, and to have the ability to carry these decisions out in a meaningful and culturally appropriate manner.
Self-determination is a human right, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need the ability to exercise their rights to make decisions on social, cultural and economic areas that directly impact them.
International day of the world's Indigenous people also highlights the violations that Indigenous people around the world have experienced due to colonisation.
4 September: Indigenous Literacy Day
Aims to raise awareness about the barriers in receiving an education that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face. The Indigenous literacy foundation work to provide educational reading resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help improve education outcomes.