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Curtin University
Centre For Aboriginal Studies

Significant Dates

There are a number of significant dates for Aboriginal people. Click the links to view information about each date and its significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

January 26 - Survival Day

Ever since the first Day of Mourning in 1938, the tradition has continued each year on 26 January. In 1998, a silent re-enactment of the original Day of Mourning protest was staged by around four hundred protestors, along the same route that the group of Aboriginal people took in 1938. It also involved descendants of the original protestors reading the speeches which were given 60 years ago and the ten points which were outlined from the meeting to be reaffirmed.

The Survival concerts are historically linked to NAIDOC. The Concerts, celebrated across Australia on January 26, represent a peaceful resistance by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eople to the colonisatin and to Australia Day being celebrated on the anniversary of the arrival of the British. The Concerts celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survival and showcase performing artists. The first Concert was held in Sydney in 1992 and has been running in Perth since 2000.

Click here for more information about Survival Day

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February 13 - Apology Day

On 13 February 2008, as parliament returned from its summer break, the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved a Motion of Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples in the House of Representatives on 13 February 2008, apologising for past laws, policies and practices that devastated Australia’s First Nations Peoples – in particular members of the Stolen Generations. This was the parliament’s first order of business, and The Hon Kevin Rudd became the first Australian Prime Minister to give a public apology to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Federal Government.

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March 17 2016 - Close the Gap Day

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People die on average between 10 and 17 years younger than non- Indigenous Australians. Indigenous babies are between 2-3 times as likely to die before their first birthday as non - Indigenous babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to suffer from much higher rates of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, pneumonia and diabetes than other Australians. Many Indigenous urban and remote communities experience poor access to primary healthcare. Access can involve distance from services, lack of cultural appropriateness or the wrong type of service.

The aim? To bring people together, to share information — and most importantly — to take meaningful action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.

Click here for more information about Close The Gap

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May 26 - Sorry Day

National Sorry Day is an annual day of commemoration and remembrance of all those who have been impacted by the government policies of forcible removal that have resulted in the Stolen Generations.

Sorry Day has been held annually on 26 May each year since 1998, and was born out of a key recommendation made by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families in the Bringing them home Report that was tabled in Federal Parliament on 26 May 1997: 7a. That the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, in consultation with the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, arrange for a national `Sorry Day' to be celebrated each year to commemorate the history of forcible removals and its effects.

Click here for more information about Sorry Day

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May 27 - 1967 Referendum

On 27 May 1967 a Federal referendum was held. The first question, referred to as the 'nexus question' was an attempt to alter the balance of numbers in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The second question was to determine whether two references in the Australian Constitution, which discriminated against Aboriginal people, should be removed. This fact sheet addresses the second question. 

Click here for more information about the 1967 Referendum

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May 27 - June 03 - Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May - 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey - the anniversaries of the successful referendum and High Court Mabo decision.

The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort. May 27 marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.

Click here for more information about Reconciliation Week

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June 03 - Mabo Day

On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title. 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision.

Click here for more information about Mabo Day

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July (First Week) - NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.

NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

We encourage all staff, students and community members to participate in the celebrations and activities that take place across the nation during NAIDOC Week.

Click here for more information about NAIDOC Week

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09 August - UN International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

What do people do?

People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples. Events may include messages from the UN secretary general and other key leaders, performances by indigenous artists, and panel discussions on reconciliation.

Click here for more information about the UN International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

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