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Important Dates

26 January - Australia Day / Day of Mourning / Survival Day / Invasion Day

This date marks the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove. In 1938, on the 150th anniversary of this landing, a 'Day of Mourning' was organised-principally by William Cooper (who had founded the Australian Aboriginal League in Melbourne and drafted a petition of Aboriginal grievance which the Government refused to pass on to King George V) and William Ferguson (leader of the NSW-based Aborigines Progress Association). For the protest Ferguson and J. P. Patten wrote a manifesto entitled Aborigines Claim Citizenship Rights in which they appealed for a new Aboriginal policy, full citizenship status, equality and land rights. The manifesto opened with: 'This festival of 150 years' so-called "progress" in Australia commemorates also 150 years of misery and degradation imposed on the original native inhabitants by white invaders of this country'.

13 February - Apology Anniversary

This day commemorates the day that the Federal Government apologised to the Stolen Generations.

21 March - Harmony Day - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

This date coincides with United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and began to be commemorated in 1999 as a day to encourage tolerance and understanding between Australians of all races and cultural backgrounds.

25 April - Anzac Day

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people risked their lives for their home countries and the land now called Australia. They are the forgotten hero's of our people and on this day we should pause to remember them.

26 May - National Sorry Day

This day marks the anniversary of the 1997 tabling of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report Bringing them Home. Hundreds of thousands of Australians participated in the first National Sorry Day in 1998. The following year the day was used to launch the 'Journey of Healing', with ten pairs of message sticks which had been dispatched from Uluru three weeks earlier being received in the capital cities. Every year since, there have been gatherings and activities across the country-including bridge walks, barbecues, concerts and a Message Sticks Festival at the Sydney Opera House.

27 May - 3 June - National Reconciliation Week

The week began as the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation (1993) and was organised by the Faith Communities for Reconciliation and has now grown into the National Reconciliation Week. The week starts off on the 27 of May, which was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and ends with 'Mabo Day' on the 3rd of June. On the 27th of  May 2000 national leaders gathered for the 'Corroboree 2000: Sharing our Future' ceremony at the Sydney Opera House-marking the end of the ten year 'Process of Reconciliation' which had begun with the establishing of the Council for Reconciliation in 1990, and marking the release of the Council's Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation and Roadmap for Reconciliation. On the next day over 250 000 people joined the Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and many others joined in on walks and events in other cities. Each year since, the week has featured activities across the country.

3 June - Mabo Day

This day commemorates the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision in the case brought by Eddie Mabo and others which recognised the existence in Australia of native title rights. On the 10th anniversary of this day in 2002 there were many calls for the day to become a public holiday, an official National Mabo Day.

1 July - Coming of the Light Festival

A day when many Torres Strait Islanders both in the Strait and on mainland Australia commemorate with religious and cultural ceremonies the day in 1871 when the London Missionary Society first arrived in the Torres Strait.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

The First Sunday in July, helps us kick off NAIDOC week with some prayer and honest reflection. It is a chance for all to celebrate the life of Australia's Indigenous Peoples.

First full week of July - NAIDOC Week

This week grew out of the National Aborigines Day (also referred to as National Aborigines' Day and sometimes as National Aboriginal Day). On 31 January 1939 William Cooper, following up on his successful 'Day of Mourning', wrote to the National Missionary Council of Australia (NMCA) asking for help in promoting a permanent annual Day aimed at improving attitudes towards Aboriginal people. The NMCA favoured the idea and encouraged churches to observe the Sunday before the Australia Day weekend as 'Aboriginal Sunday'. In 1955 the NMCA secured the support of Sir Paul Hasluck, then Minister for Territories, for a national day on the first Sunday in July.(7) In 1957 the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed with the support of the Federal and State governments, the churches and major Aboriginal organisations. In 1974 all members of the committee were Aboriginal or Islander, and in 1975 it started to promote not just a Day but a Week (usually referred to as National Aborigines Week or National Aborigines' Week but sometimes as National Aboriginal Week).

The week became a time to celebrate the survival of indigenous people, to increase awareness of indigenous heritage, to recognise the indigenous contribution to the national identity and to articulate the continuing need for justice and equity. In 1985 the National Committee agreed to change National Aborigines Week from July to the second week in September. In 1988 NADOC became known as NAIDOC to include Islanders and the day became National Aboriginal and Islander Day. In 1991 it was decided to move the week back to July, starting in 1992. In 1996 the National NAIDOC Committee was wound up. The States and Territories have since had their own organising committees and taken it in turn to host national celebrations. Every year has had a different theme.

4 August - National Aboriginal and Islander Children's Day

This day was first observed in 1988 and each year has a special theme. The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care has always produced a poster to celebrate the Day.

9 August - International Day of the World's Indigenous People

This day was designated by the General Assembly in 1994 to be observed each year throughout the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995-2004). This day, on the anniversary of the first meeting in 1982 of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, was to be an opportunity for intergovernmental and non-governmental groups to work with indigenous people and others to organise activities that contribute to a greater appreciation of indigenous history, culture, languages, rights and aspirations. The Decade's theme is 'Indigenous people: partnership in action' and its purpose is to recognise the value and diversity of indigenous cultures and to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people. Two central objectives have been the establishment of a permanent forum for indigenous people and the adoption of the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

1 November All Saints Day and 2 November All Souls Day

These two days are a good time to reflect upon all those great women and men who have travelled this path before us.

11 November - Remembrance Day

A time to recall all those who have fought to protect this country in war.

25 November - United Nations International Day to promote the elimination of violence against women.

The first International Day was marked in 2000 and an important focus of the day is to encourage the role of men in championing non-violence.  The symbol of the day is a white ribbon, to be worn by men for the whole day as a statement that they support the campaign to stop men's violence against women.  Why not take this up this year in your situation?

10 December - Human Rights Day

Celebrates the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.