Nationally Significant Events
Nationally Significant Dates - 2019
***NATIONAL ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN’S DAY 2019***
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day is celebrated each year on the 4th of August and this year centres around the theme of 'We Play, We Learn, We Belong'. All Corps and expressions are encouraged to join us in celebrating this national event. You can find resources for an event and more information on the day here.
*Reminder: If you were unable to host a NAIDOC Week event during the national week of commemoration (7-14th July) and would still like to do something to get involved you are more than welcome to hold events up until the end of September.
NAIDOC Week 2019: Voice. Treaty. Truth
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Reconciliation Artwork Animation
To explore national resources from our department check out our
Ministry Resources Page here.
Each of the dates listed below are for all Australians to commemorate. Corps and Centres may like to observe these in different ways - from simple recognition to running your own event. We encourage everyone to read through these days and join us in honouring them in your own community.
The Freedom Ride
Commemorated on the 12th February.
The 12th of Feb. is the date we remember the ’65 Freedom Ride. It is a day where we reflect on the actions of University of Sydney students Charles Perkins and the 'Student Action for Aborigines' organisation from the 12th – 26th February 1965. It remembers the organisation’s bus tour of western and coastal New South Wales towns that drew extensive national and international attention and stirred public debate on the poor living conditions of Aboriginal people and the racism that was rife in NSW country towns. This event was the beginning of resetting the relationship between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in contemporary Australia.
The Ride included a survey of Aboriginal living conditions (namely health, housing and education), a direct challenge to a ban against Aboriginal ex-servicemen at the Walgett Returned Services League, and a demonstration against local laws barring Aboriginal children from the Moree and Kempsey swimming pools.
People of Note: Charles Perkins and the Student Action for Aborigines group
Bringing Them Home
Commemorated on the 5th April.
Bringing Them Home was the name given to the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (now called the Australian Human Rights Commission).
The National Inquiry was established by the Attorney General in 1995 and over two years, took oral and written testimony from over five hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia, as well as from Indigenous organisations, foster parents, State and Territory Government representatives, church representatives, other non-government agencies, former mission and government employees and individual members of the community. The 689 page final report, tabled in Parliament on 26 May 1997, includes many of these personal testimonies as well as 54 recommendations to support healing and reconciliation for the Stolen Generations, their families and the Australian public more broadly.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart
Commemorated on the 26th May.
On the 26th of May 2017 a statement was issued from over 250 delegates who had gathered at the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru. The conversation built on six months of discussions held throughout Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples reflected upon the five options presented in the Referendum Council’s discussion paper. When asked what constitutional recognition means to them, First Nations peoples told the Council they don’t want recognition if it means a simple acknowledgement, but rather constitutional reform that makes a real difference in their communities.
Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
Commemorated on the 27th of May.
On the 27th May each year we commemorate the 1967 Referendum which was a historic day for campaigners of Aboriginal rights and status with the most-decisive referendum victory in Australian history.
The referendum attracted more than 90% of voters in favour of deleting the two references to Aboriginal people in Australia’s Constitution. The first reference (Section 51) specified that federal laws established to protect all Australians did not apply to Indigenous people. As a result of this stipulation, First Nations peoples had different rights in different states and were not allowed to access federally funded services such as social security and education. The second reference (Section 127) discounted Aboriginal populations from being accounted for in the census, essentially making them invisible, and by extension excluded them from receiving federal funding.
Campaigners for a “Yes” vote successfully argued those references were discriminatory and excluded Aboriginal people from the benefits of citizenship.
The 1967 referendum secured the amendment of Section 51 and the deletion of Section 127.
… people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any state, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.
The words “other than the Aboriginal race in any state” were deleted.
… reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a state or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted.
The results of the referendum raised awareness of the living standards currently experience by our Indigenous communities and allowed for funding to be directed to states and territories with large Indigenous populations to improve their living standards.
The referendum did not secure citizenship, equal rights or the right to vote for our nations Indigenous population, though it is often mistakenly remembered as such.
Commemorated on the 3rd June.
Mabo Day is commemorated annually on the 3rd of June and honours the landmark decision on the ‘Mabo Case’ in 1992, brought to the High Court by Eddie Koiki Mabo – a Torres Strait Islander man. The case lead to the legal myth of terra nullius (‘land belonging to no-one’) being overturned and opened the doorway for native title and land rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Up to this point in Australian history, terra nullius had formed the basis in Australian law in regards to land and title and ignored the land ownership of Australia’s First Nations people prior to and upon the arrival of James Cook in 1770.
The Mabo Case specifically challenged the existing Australia legal system from two perspectives:
People of Note: Eddie Koiki Mabo (c. 29 June 1936–21 January 1992)
Commemorated from the 27th May – 3rd of June.
Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. This years theme is "Grounded in truth, Walk together with courage".
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.
Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Resources: National Reconciliation Week
National Closing The Gap Day
Commemorated on the 21st of March, 2019.
Everyone deserves the right to a healthy future and the opportunities this affords.
In Australia however, many of our First Peoples are denied the same access to healthcare that non-Indigenous Australians take for granted. The impact of this is most notably obvious when considering that the average life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is at least 10 years lower than that of non- Indigenous Australians. Despite a decade of Government promises, this gap between health and life expectancy continues to widen and unfortunately, the mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations.
Resources: National Close the Gap Day
From the 21st – 24th March, 2019.
The Surrender conference is a gathering of Christians from across Australia to share ideas, stories and hope on justice, discipleship and mission. The surrender conference is for people from all walks of life - with workshops for first-timers, amazing keynote speakers and performing artists, fantastic programs for all ages, and heaps more!
Details: Belgrave Heights Convention Centre, Belgrave Heights, VIC
Resources: Surrender Conference - Melbourne 2019
The Coming of the Light
Commemorated on the 1st of July.
The Coming of the Light is a yearly holiday celebrated in the Torres Strait and marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in their islands.
One Saturday evening, 1st July 1871, the Reverend Samuel MacFarlane of the London Missionary Society anchored at Erub (Darnley Island). Dabad, a Warrior Clan Elder on Erub, “defied his Tribal Law” and openly welcomed the London Missionary Society clergymen and South Sea Islander evangelists and teachers.
Torres Strait Islanders acknowledgment of the missionaries was the acceptance of a change that would profoundly affect every aspect of life in the Torres Strait from that time onwards, particularly bringing an end to inter-island conflict. Christian principles were partly compatible with traditional religion and the missionaries gave some protection and assistance to Islanders in their contact with foreigners in the maritime industry.
Annual celebrations include Church services, a re-enactment of the landing at Kemus on Erub as well as hymn singing, feasting and Ailan dans (‘island dance’). Torres Strait Islanders living on the islands or on the mainland come together to honour this anniversary every year. Islanders of all faiths celebrate the Coming of the Light in a festival like no other in Australia.
Resources: The Coming of the Light - Article
Commemorated from the 7th – 14th July, 2019.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Nations peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Wherever you live, you can take part in NAIDOC Week celebrations. To find out about NAIDOC Week activities in your area, contact your nearest Regional Office.
Resources: NAIDOC Week
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
Commemorated on the 4th August.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (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 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.
Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
Commemorated on the 13th September.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, security and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide and enshrines Indigenous peoples’ right to be different.
The Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2007. This was the culmination of more than 20 years of negotiation between the Indigenous peoples and governments of the world. The Australian Government announced its support for the Declaration in 2009.
The Declaration is particularly significant because Indigenous peoples, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, were involved in its drafting.
Resources: UN Declaration of Human Rights