NAIDOC Week plays a vital and unique role in the coming together of many Australians from diverse backgrounds and nationalities – joining together to celebrate Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander culture as the oldest living continuing culture on the planet. Rork Projects proudly supports and celebrates NAIDOC Week.
Our Co-owner John Paul Janke is Co-Chair of the National NAIDOC Committee. The National NAIDOC Committee is a voluntary committee independent of Government that make key decisions on National NAIDOC activities including the dates for the week-long celebrations, the focus city, the theme, the National NAIDOC Poster Competition winner and the National NAIDOC Awards winners.
Why do we celebrate NAIDOC Week?
As an Indigenous Business, Rork projects proudly celebrates NAIDOC Week each year. We believe the week plays a vital role in our nation coming together – learning the true history of this country and celebrating 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, lifestyle and achievement.
Each year, we proudly join with - and support - many of our corporate clients and partners to assist them with their celebrations.
We believe that through NAIDOC Week, Australians of all ages discover more about the oldest living continuing culture on the planet and their contribution to this nation – something that all Australians should celebrate.
NAIDOC Week invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.
“NAIDOC Week is about seeing, hearing and learning the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history of this country - which is Australian history. We want all Australians to celebrate that we have the oldest continuing culture on the planet and recognise that our sovereignty was never ceded.”
From about 1924 to 1927, the Australian Aborigines' Progressive Association (AAPA) was active in Sydney, under the leadership of Fred Maynard. AAPA held three annual conferences but members were hounded by police and had to give up their work.
In 1932, William Cooper formed the Australian Aboriginal League in Melbourne, in protest at the conditions under which Aboriginal people were forced to live.
Cooper drafted a petition on the topic for presentation to King George V. The petition was signed by many Aboriginal people but the Commonwealth Government informed Cooper that presenting it would be an unconstitutional act.
In February 1935, Cooper called for a deputation to the Federal Minister for the Interior, asking for representation of Aboriginal people in Parliament, a unified and national Department of Native Affairs and state advisory councils on Aboriginal affairs. However, nothing came of this move.
On 27 June 1937, William Ferguson, the first Aboriginal person to stand for Parliament, called a public meeting in Dubbo, New South Wales, to establish the Aborigines' Progressive Association.
On Australia Day, 26 January 1938, the Australian Aboriginal League and the Aboriginal Progressive Association combined to hold a Day of Mourning. The day marked the 150th anniversary of the first fleet's landing at Sydney Cove.
Photo: National Museum Australia
A permanent Aboriginal Day in Australia
William Cooper believed a permanent Aborigines’ Day should be established. On 31 January 1939, he wrote to the National Missionary Council of Australia (NMCA), asking for its help in promoting a permanent Aborigines' Day.
The NMCA Aborigines Advisory Committee supported the idea. The Council agreed to inform various churches of the request for a special Aboriginal Sunday, but said such a day should not be connected with any Aboriginal Day of Mourning.
In 1955, the NMCA suggested the day should be observed nationally. They asked the Federal Government to establish a National Aborigines Day.
A national day was set down for the second Friday in July – Friday the 12th of July.
The National Aborigines’ Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed in 1957. It had support and co-operation from state and federal governments, the church and other Aboriginal and Islander organisations.
In 1974, when all members of the NADOC Committee were for the first time Aboriginal or Islander, NADOC's image began to change.
From 1975 onwards, NADOC promoted National Aborigines' Week as a time to show the rich cultural heritage of original Australians and their positive contribution to the nation's identity.
NAIDOC 2020 - Always Was, Always Will Be.
Always Was, Always Will Be recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent we now call Australia for over 65,000 years.
We are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. This country was criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, our first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, astronomers and artists.
Australia has the world’s oldest oral stories. Its’ First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremony, invented unique technologies and built and engineered structures - that predate more internationally well-known examples of ancient engineering like the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge.
Our adaptation and intimate knowledge of Country enabled us to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.
Always Was, Always Will Be acknowledges that hundreds of Nations and their cultures covered this continent. All were managing the land - the biggest estate on earth - to sustainably provide for their future. Through ingenious land management systems like fire stick farming we transformed the harshest habitable continent into a land of bounty.
NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 - with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.
The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples.
“NAIDOC Week is a week borne from a day of protest, a movement towards justice, equality, and freedom and human rights. It’s a week that celebrates and acknowledges our past, our present and looks with hope towards the future.”