Here are some particularly significant dates that commemorate and recognise Aboriginal people, histories and cultures; and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures. It is important that we come together to raise awareness, understanding and recognition of these days and events. It's an opportunity to appreciate and reflect on their importance to who we are today and our Australian identity.
Timelines of our shared history
Timelines of our shared history that include a balanced view of the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as well as non-Indigenous Australians are important. Explore and discuss specific eventss throughout history that have impacted specifically on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Australian Human Rights Commission
The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed an education module focused on the Bringing them home report, which details the history of the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families. The module includes a detailed, up-to-date timeline that links to a wide range of other sauces.
The Australian Museum has developed a timeline of specific events relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from 1500 to 1900.
Calendar of events
Consider the events and significant days you can share in your school and classroom to celebrate and commemorate our shared history.
- 26 January - Survival Day
- This date has different meanings for different people. Some Australians may see it as just a day off, but for many Australians this is not a day or celebration. It can be known as Survival Day, Invasion Day or National Day or Mourning. It is a symbol of European peoples' arrival on Australian shores and the devastation of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living here.
- 13 February - National Apology Day
- The National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008 was a significant moment in Australia's history. The federal parliament acknowledged and apologised for the wrongdoings that have occurred towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians since colonisation. In particular, the Prime Minister at the time, Kevin Rudd apologised on behalf of the nation for the removal of children from their families.
- 21 March - Harmony Day
- Harmony Day is a day for all Australians to come together to respect the diversity of cultures from traditional
- March - National Close the Gap Day
- Oxfam Australia runs a Close the Gap campaign at the end of March each year. It's aimed at raising awareness and encouraging action towards closing the gap in life expectancy and general health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lives. There are opportunities to become involved in local events or to register your own events.
- 26 May - National Sorry Day/National Day of Healing
- On 26 May 1997, the Bringing them home report was tabled, revealing the historical impact of the Stolen Generations on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lives. The report lists a wide range of recommendations, including the need for a national day each year to say sorry for the pain and suffering experienced, and the continued generational trauma that these events have caused. Schools are encouraged to hold their own events or become involved in local events.
- 27 May - anniversary of the 1967 referendum
- The referendum of 27 May 1967 was Australia's most successful referendum, and a defining moment in our nation's history. Over 90 per cent of Australians voted to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
- 27 May - 3 June - National Reconciliation Week
- National Reconciliation Weed is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the sucessful 1967 referendum (27 May) and the High Court Mabo decision (3 June). This 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.
- 3 June - Mabo Day
- The High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision on 3 June 1992, legally recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land - a relationship that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title.
- July - NAIDOC Week
- NAIDOC stands for the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. NAIDOC is a celebration of all Aboriginal cultures and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and an opportunity to recognise the contribution of Indigenous Australians across all fields. Activities take place across the country during NAIDOC week, which is celebrated every year in the first full week of July. All Australians are encouraged to take part. The NAIDOC website is an excellent starting point for ideas for celebrating and events in your local area, posters, NAIDOC awards for outstanding contributions of Indigenous Australians.
- 4 August - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day was introduced by the Secretariat of Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in 1988 to celebrate children. Each year SNAICC chooses a theme, and produces and distributes resources and ideas for celebrating the day.
- 9 August - International Day of the World's Indigenous People
- The International Day of the World's Indigenous People has been celebrated every year on 9 August since 1994. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this day, and each year pronounces a theme to celebrate across the world.
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