NAIDOC Week 2018 will be held under the theme – Because of Her – We can! and will take place nationally from Sunday July 8 through to Sunday 15 July. NAIDOC week is held each year in Australia to celebrate the history, achievements and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC week is now widely celebrated by both indigenous and non-indigenous local communities nationally.
NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and it has since become the name of the week itself.
Under the 2018 theme Because of Her, We Can! Australia will pay respect to and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as unsung heroes and important pillars of our society. As leaders, activists and social change advocates, these women have fought and continue to fight for social justice and equal rights for Indigenous communities. They fight for equal rights to our country and for social reform – for access to education and employment. They advocate tirelessly to keep the Indigenous culture, language and art alive in both indigenous and mainstream communities. They have broken down many barriers and cultural and gender stereotypes. And they have done all this while caring for their own families and homes.
These pioneering Aboriginal and Torres Strait women come from all walks of life; they may come from many professions like doctors, politicians, writers, chefs, teachers, actors or media personalities to name a few. Or they may just be someone’s mother, grandmother, aunt or sister. They were pioneering women like Barangaroo, Truganini, Pearl Gibbs, Flo Kennedy and Mum Shirl. Today, these women include such trail blazers as Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Nova Peris and Yalmay Yunupingu and many others.
This NAIDOC Week Australia will pay homage to all the women who have worked and continue to work tirelessly to raise awareness of the many social challenges still faced by our Indigenous communities. This is a true celebration of the essential role that women play whether it’s in the family, community, at a state or national level.
Local community events that celebrate NAIDOC week are encouraged and organised by government agencies, local councils, schools and workplaces. No matter where you live, you can organise or take part in NAIDOC week celebrations and events. Some great ideas suggested by the NAIDOC week committee to get your own local community involved this NAIDOC week include:
· Displaying the National NAIDOC poster or other Indigenous posters around your school or workplace.
· Study a famous Indigenous Australian.
· Create your own Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander inspired art.
· Visit local Indigenous sites of significance or interest.
· Invite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander dancers to perform.
· Run an art competition for your school or community.
There are also many organised community events taking place around the country and you can visit the NAIDOC week website to find an event near you.
The week will culminate in an organised awards ceremony to recognise the achievements and contributions that Indigenous people make to improve the quality of life for their community. Each year tribute is paid to outstanding individuals in such categories as Female Elder of the Year, Youth of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. This event is the most important national Indigenous event of its kind and will take place on Gadigal land on Friday 13 July at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.
The beautiful image at the top of this article is the official NAIDOC week poster designed by Cheryl Moggs, a Bigambul woman from Goondiwindi. You can read more about her inspiration here.