Dates of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

National Close the Gap Day | March

For more than a decade now, Australians from every corner of the country, in schools, businesses and community groups, have shown their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity by marking National Close the Gap Day on the third Thursday in March each year.

Close the Gap is a social justice " peoples " campaign that was launched in April 2007 . The Campaign was launched following Professor Tom Calma’s 2005 Social Justice report which emphasised health as a human right. And the signing of the “Statement of Intent” with the Australian Government.

International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination | 21 March

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March since declared by the United Nations in 1966.

On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966 which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Bringing them Home | 5 April

On 5 April 1997, 'Bringing them home' was launched as the final report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

The final report holds and honours the many personal stories shared by members of the Stolen Generations with the inquiry. The report is a tribute to the strength and resilience of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people adversely affected by forcible removal. We remember and acknowledge the sorrow of all the children who will never come home - for them, their parents, their communities and all Aboriginal people.

National Sorry Day | 26 May

National Sorry Day in 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of this special Australia-wide commemoration acknowledging more than 150 years of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and culture and to think about the victims of these misguided actions by government.

Holding a National Sorry Day was one of the recommendations made by the 1997 Bringing Them Home inquiry. The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998.

National Sorry Day helps people come together to reflect on the past but also talk about what is needed to bring healing to the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum | 27 May

In 1967, after 10 years of campaigning, a referendum was held to change the Australian Constitution. The result was the removal of two negative references to Aboriginal Australians giving the Commonwealth the power to legislate for them as a group. This change was seen by many as a recognition of Aboriginal people as full Australian citizens.

Reconciliation Week | 27 May - 3 June

National Reconciliation Week was initiated in 1996 to provide a special focus for nationwide activities all Australians can take part in to promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The dates of 27 May to 3 June encompass important milestones, namely the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

Reconciliation Australia describes the week as 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.

Gai-mariagal Festival 2024 | 26 May - 9 July

The Gai-mariagal Festival was founded in 2001 and aims to raise awareness of First Nations People living in the Northern Sydney region.

The festival starts on Sorry Day, 26 May and goes through to the end of NAIDOC Week; the second week in July each year. The festival committee includes Local Government, other agencies, businesses and numerous community groups. Events include workshops, art exhibitions, performances, films, talks and more.

Mabo Day | 3 June

Mabo Day marks the anniversary of the High Court of Australia’s judgement in 1992 in the Mabo case, that Australia was not ‘Terra Nullius’ (no mans land) when British colonists arrived in 1788. This is a day of particular significance for Torres Strait Islander people, but also for Aboriginal people too as the decision opened up a new wave of land rights.

NAIDOC Week | July

NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.

Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal rights groups in the 1920′s that sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 

To find out more, visit NAIDOC Week.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day | 4 August

Children's Day and the week leading up to it, is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.

To find out more, visit National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples | 9 August

On this day, people from around the world are encouraged to spread the United Nation's message on the protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Literacy Day | 6 September

Indigenous Literacy Day is a national celebration of culture, stories, language and literacy. This day raises awareness of the disadvantages experienced in remote communities and advocates for more access to literacy resources.

Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples | 13 September

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 61st session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007. The Australian Government gave its support on 3 April 2009.

Visit Australian Human Rights Commission to learn more about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Koori Knockout | October Long Weekend 

NSW Koori Rugby League Knockout Carnival is one of the biggest Indigenous gatherings in Australia. The first knockout was held at Camdenville Park, St Peters, on the October long weekend of 1971 with seven participating teams.