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Every year, the week beginning the first Sunday of July is National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week. It’s all about celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, achievements and history – and Shannay tells us why it’s such a great event, for more reasons than one.

This can help if:

  • you’d like to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture
  • you’ve heard of NAIDOC Week but don’t know what it celebrates
  • you want to be part of a national celebration of different cultures and religions.
Man with necklace sitting down

NAIDOC Week is for everyone

This time of the year is when everyone can get together as one to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and achievements.

NAIDOC isn’t just a celebration for Aboriginal people

When I was little, I used to think that NAIDOC Week was only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and that only they were allowed to celebrate it. I’ve since learnt that this isn’t the case. In my community, on the first day of NAIDOC Week, everyone marches together through the main street in celebration. There are people from different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds, and from different walks of life, walking with us, holding the hands of our elders and waving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag.

The most amazing thing is that everyone joins in to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities, and to just have fun together.

Engaging with the experiences of Australia’s First People

There is still a lot of stigma around being Aboriginal. Events such as Sorry Day, Mabo Day and NAIDOC Week help to shed light on some of the issues/successes experienced by Australia’s First People, and encourage all Australians to engage in conversation about them.

Working towards a society that is equal and respectful of everyone

These events shed light on Aboriginal culture and affairs in the hope of bringing everyone together as a family and educating them about their fellow Australians.

The colour of your skin doesn’t define you

Someone asked me if you had a cup of coffee and added milk to it, and just kept adding more milk, would it still be coffee? And the answer is: ‘Yes, it’s still coffee.’ It’s not your appearance or the colour of your skin that defines you as a person. You’re defined by who you believe you are within yourself. You are who you believe you are.

Come one, come all

NAIDOC Week isn’t about Aboriginal and Islander people caring for other Aboriginal and Islander people. We get so lost in the stigmas, the prejudice and the discrimination, that we forget to see that there are non-Indigenous people out there who have so much love and respect for Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal people, just as much as we do ourselves.

What can I do now?