Below outlines a list of significated dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including a brief description compiled by the WA AIDS Council Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group Chair, Anthony Smith.
Saturday 19th: Close the Gap Day
Beginning in 2006, the Close the Gap campaign has attempted to improve the social, economic, and health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The realisation of continuing disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples social, economic, and health indicators, as compared to the rest of the population, spurred a need to address these issues formally.
Monday 21st: Harmony Day
Harmony Day coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It celebrates a commitment to harmony and mutual respect in a culturally diverse nation. It is about community participation, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for all.
Thursday 26th : Sorry Day
Beginning in 1998, a year after the ‘Bringing Them Home Report’, which documented the Stolen Generations – in which at least a minimum of 1/10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between approximately 1905 to 1969 (perhaps still later) were forcibly removed from their parents and trained as farmhands/servants at settlements, unable to see their families or practice culture.
By the United Nation’s definition of genocide, the forcible removal of children in order to eradicate another ethnic group’s culture is an act of genocide.
The effects of the stolen generation can still be felt by many first nation peoples, through a cumulative loss of cultural identity and country-belonging, subsequent intergenerational damage, and personal psychological damage to individuals.
Friday 27th: Anniversary of 1967 Referendum
Celebration of the successful 1967 Referendum, in which 90.77% of Australians voted ‘Yes’ to a referendum on two points:
- Adding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to population count.
- Allowing the federal government to make laws in regards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Prior to this, only individual states could make laws about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were not counted as part of the population for statistics.
The referendum is often misunderstood as ‘counting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as citizens’ or ‘giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the right to vote’
Friday 27th - Friday 3rd June: Reconciliation Week
Begins on 1967 Referendum celebration, ends on Mabo Day.
Event started being celebrated in 1996. It celebrates efforts to try and reconcile Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both culturally and materially.
Friday 3rd: Mabo Day
Eddie Mabo campaigned for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land rights, and resulted in the famous ‘Mabo decision’. He was pivotal for the development of Australia’s Native Title Act and the removal of terra nullius, the false belief that the continent was ‘empty’ of people prior to 1788.
Friday 1st: Coming of the Light
The Coming of the Light festival marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in Torres Strait. The missionaries landed at Erub Island on 1 July 1871, introducing Christianity to the region.
This is a significant day for Torres Strait Islanders, who are predominantly of Christian faith, and religious and cultural ceremonies across Torres Strait and mainland Australia are held on 1st of July each year.
Monday 3rd - Monday 10th: NAIDOC Week
The National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee was first formed in 1957. It is a celebration of the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. NAIDOC also recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s contribution to various fields.
Also commemorates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander war veterans.
Thursday 4th: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Childrens Day
Started in 1988 and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children highlighting issues specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
Tuesday 9th: International Indigenous Day
Indigenous populations number 350 million in over 70 countries and represent more than 5,000 languages and cultures. This day recognises the value and diversity of the cultures in Indigenous communities and the contributions they can make to humanity.
Wednesday 7th: Indigenous Literacy Day
Started in 2007, A national organisation attempting to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literacy skills. Celebrates with book swaps, donations, library events and more.
Tuesday 13th: Anniversary UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples
Anniversary of the United Nation’s Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on the 13th of September 2007. Australia did not initially sign the declaration, however the Labor Government in 2009 formally endorsed it.
November - December 2016
Wednesday 30th November - Tues 6th December: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week
Beginning in 2014, the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) aims to promote awareness and testing of HIV as it effects Australia’s first nation peoples. The slogan/hashtag for 2014 and 2015 so far have been: #uandmecanstopHIV