NAIDOC week

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NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July each year to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories, and to participate in celebrations of the oldest continuous live cultures on earth.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

In Baw Baw, people can celebrate NAIDOC Week by taking part in a variety of activities and events delivered by Kurnai Nations and Baw Baw Shire Council.

NAIDOC Week Events

Community members are invited to celebrate NAIDOC Week in Baw Baw Shire with a deadly program of events and exhibitions delivered by and with local Elders.

Check out the events below and learn how you can get involved. 

Monday 8 July

NAIDOC Week Opening, Awards and Flag Raising Ceremony

9am – 10.30am

West Gippsland Arts Centre Forecourt

All community members are invited to join Council and the West Gippsland Health Care Group in an official NAIDOC Week opening ceremony from 9.00am to 10.30am in the West Gippsland Arts Centre Forecourt. 

Lionel Rose Jnr Art Exhibition (Free)

Monday 8 July – Sunday 4 August

West Gippsland Arts Centre

A collection of Lionel’s art will be on display for the month of July in the foyer of the West Gippsland Arts Centre to celebrate First Nations excellence and NAIDOC. 


Friday 12 July 

Deadly Hoops Basketball Comp (Free)

Warragul Leisure Centre – Basketball Expansion Area 21 Bourke St Warragul

Kids clinic starting at 10.30am

Deadly means awesome! join us for a community basketball match and show your skills or come and cheer on our community. A kids basketball clinic for younger people aged 12-18 will be held before the match where you can learn some deadly basketball skills! Afterwards there will be a free BBQ. 

Kurnai Nations Culture Expo

10.00am – 3.00pm

Fountain Room, West Gippsland Arts Centre

All are welcome to come and learn about the Kurnai Nations people, their history and culture in this interactive expo. It is Free entry and will feature not only lots of important historical information but also some videos and art workshops, more details will be available closer to the event.

It is recommended that you allow up to 2 hours at the expo to immerse yourself in all the information, due to this please note that doors will close at 3pm.

Some merchandise will be available for purchase, please note that it will be CASH ONLY.


Saturday 13 July

Kurnai Nations Culture Expo

10.00am – 3.00pm

Fountain Room, West Gippsland Arts Centre

All are welcome to come and learn about the Kurnai Nations people, their history and culture in this interactive expo. It is Free entry and will feature not only lots of important historical information but also some videos and art workshops, more details will be available closer to the event.

It is recommended that you allow up to 2 hours at the expo to immerse yourself in all the information, due to this please note that doors will close at 3pm.

Some merchandise will be available for purchase, please note that it will be CASH ONLY.  

History of NAIDOC Week

1920 - 1930 

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.

For more information about NAIDOC Week, please visit naidoc.org.au.