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NAIDOC Week 2023 Honours The Past While Looking To The Future

This year's celebrations are timely, indeed.
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NAIDOC Week is a yearly celebration for the nation to recognise the history, culture and incredible achievements of our First Nations communities.

This year’s event, taking place July 2-9, is particularly timely given the bill to permit a referendum on the Indigenous Voice To Parliament passed just prior on June 20.

If you’re not sure how to celebrate or pay respects this National NAIDOC Week, allow us to assist.

What does NAIDOC stand for?

Once upon a time there was a committee named the ‘National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee’ or NADOC, charged with celebrating Aboriginal achievements on a single day. In 1991, this was extended to recognise Torres Strait Islander peoples as well, and the committee’s name was changed to ‘National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee’ or NAIDOC.

Performers at NAIDOC Week 2022. (Credit: Getty)

What is NAIDOC week?

Originally observed over a single day, NAIDOC celebrations were extended to a full week in 1975. The annual NAIDOC Week also occurs from the first to the second Sunday in July. 

This year, it will run between July 2-9, 2023.

The week is intended to recognise and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements. Per the official NAIDOC website, it is also a opportunity for everyone to learn about First Nations cultures — which remain some of the oldest, continuous cultures on the planet.

Each year is marked with an awards ceremony, which takes place in a different host city. There is also a theme for each week, and in 2023 it’s ‘For Our Elders’. 

This year’s NAIDOC Week poster, designed by Bobby Lockyer. (Credit: NAIDOC / Bobby Lockyer)

What is the NAIDOC Week theme in 2023?

The 2023 National NAIDOC Week theme is ‘For Our Elders’.

An official announcement video explained, “Across every generation, our Elders have played, and continue to play, an important role and hold a prominent place in our communities and families. They are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones.”
“They guide our generations and pave the way for us to take the paths we can take today. Guidance, not only through generations of advocacy and activism, but in everyday life and how to place ourselves in the world,” it continued. 

“The struggles of our Elders help to move us forward today. The equality we continue to fight for is found in their fight. Their tenacity and strength has carried the survival of our people. 

“It is their influence and through their learnings that we must ensure that when it comes to future decision making for our people, there is nothing about us – without us. 

“We pay our respects to the Elders we’ve lost and to those who continue fighting for us across all our Nations and we pay homage to them.”

What Events Are On At NAIDOC Week 2023?

Anyone can plan and host an event in the spirit of NAIDOC week, and the official NAIDOC website maintains a list of local events here, where you can search your postcode and find events nearby.

The National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony

Each year, awards to celebrate First Nations excellence are presented in following categories: 

  • National NAIDOC Person Award
  • National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement
  • National NAIDOC Female Elder Award
  • National NAIDOC Male Elder
  • National NAIDOC Sportsperson
  • National NAIDOC Youth Award
  • National NAIDOC Creative Talent Award
  • National NAIDOC Caring for Country and Culture Award
  • National NAIDOC Education Award
  • National NAIDOC Innovation Award

Each category has three finalists, except for the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is selected by the committee.

This year, the NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM, a Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri leader of Indigenous health.

See the rest of the finalists here.

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