Sat, 30/06/2007

NAIDOC Week is the culmination of a long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander effort to bring their issues of concern to the attention of Governments and the general public.

From 1924 many attempts had been made to establish a national day, and in 1957 the National Aborigines' Day Observance Committee(NADOC) was formed with the support of State and Federal Governments, the churches and major Aboriginal organisations.

In the same year, Aboriginal Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls persuaded the National Missionary Council of Australia to nominate the 2nd Sunday in July as a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their culture.

In 1991 NADOC became known as NAIDOC with the inclusion of Torres Strait Islanders, with each year having a theme representing issues that are important to indigenous people.

This year was doubly significant as it marked not only the 50th anniversary of NAIDOC Week, but also the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum which saw over 90% of Australians voting in favour of removing clauses from the Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Among the events to celebrate the week was the NAIDOC Ball attended by 300 indigenous and non-indigenous Canberrans at the Burns Club.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation by Mary Porter of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ACT Person of the Year to Traci Harris for her work in the community welfare sector.