In Summary

  • NAIDOC Week is a national celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s First Nations people
  • Official celebrations have been postponed to November, however Swinburne and the Moondani Toombadool Centre will celebrate on the original dates
  • A range of activities are available to celebrate

NAIDOC Week celebrations are typically held across Australia in the first two weeks of July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s First Nations people. In 2020 Swinburne celebrated with our community during the original dates in July, with national NAIDOC Week celebrations delayed to 8-15 November in response to the COVID-19 situation.

At Swinburne we welcome all opportunities to reflect on the significance of this week and celebrate Indigenous culture. The theme for 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be.

The early beginnings

“NAIDOC originally began in 1938 and was known as the ‘Day of Mourning’ before Australia Day,” explains Indigenous Student Advisor at Swinburne’s Moondani Toombadool Centre, Cyan Earnshaw.

The Day of Mourning was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world which saw protestors march through the streets of Sydney, followed by a congress attended by over a thousand people.

“The Day of Mourning recognised the fight for Aboriginal rights and protested against the treatment and status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. In 1955 it was moved to the first Sunday in July to celebrate our culture, history and our achievements,” explains Indigenous Officer at the Moondani Toombadool Centre, Lea Jones.

When the Day of Mourning became nationally observed, the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) was formed

The committee name was reflective of that moment in history and was responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC week.

“The original committee is no longer around, but the acronym has become the name of the week itself,” Ms Earnshaw adds.

NAIDOC Week at Swinburne

“NAIDOC Week is an important time for Indigenous people as it’s a time of celebration and connection with each other, our community and country. The week symbolises respect and sharing of culture, a time of reflection and healing and a place of pride for all Australians,” Ms Earnshaw explains.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate all that is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with all Australians. Our rich cultural history and achievements culminate in great celebration,” Ms Jones adds. 

Every year, Swinburne creates a package of events and activities to help students and staff come together and celebrate NAIDOC Week. These have included speaking events with Indigenous leaders, workshops and yoga sessions – as well as inviting the Swinburne community to get involved in national NAIDOC Week activities.

In July 2020 year, an artwork competition supporting the NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ was open for voting to the Swinburne community, and a series of events held. Competition winner, Bachelor of Education (Secondary) student and Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist, Katie Bugden, has also donated her time and talent to create the designs for bespoke Indigenous face masks launched during national NAIDOC Week celebrations. 

Reconciliation at Swinburne

Swinburne is committed to ensuring Indigenous heritage, knowledge and cultures are recognised by our community and embedded into our work. In 2017, we were the first Australian university to achieve Elevate status for our 2017-2019 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

In 2018, we established the Moondani Toombadool Centre (MTC),which is responsible for all Indigenous matters at Swinburne including governance and culture.The Centre also publishes the Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, a leading international journal on Indigenous Affairs.

The MTC team also supports Indigenous students with their study plans and experience at Swinburne. To get in contact with an Indigenous Student Advisor, please call +61 3 9214 8481.

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