NAIDOC Week

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.

Read more:

>> Why do we celebrate NAIDOC Week?

>> History of NAIDOC

>> NAIDOC 2021

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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.”
John Paul Janke, Co-owner Rork Projects

History of NAIDOC

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.

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William Cooper
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.

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NAIDOC 2021 - Heal Country!

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity.

Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect - spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia's national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians.

For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage.

We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for.

Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people.

It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better.

We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Heal Country, heal our nation.

“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.”
Brian O'Rourke, Managing Director Rork Projects