Martin Place

National Aborigines Day image

National Aborigines Day celebrated with speeches in Martin Place in 1963 (photograph courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW - GPO2 23087)

Location: Sydney

Following the Day of Mourning protest on Australia Day in 1938, an annual protest event was inaugurated. Known as Aborigines Day, it was held each Sunday before Australia Day.

In the mid-50s, it was decided to move this commemoration day to July as a way of also celebrating Aboriginal culture and heritage. Although National Aborigines Day was initiated to promote the Government’s assimilation policies, it was soon taken over by Aboriginal activists. Martin Place was the site for rallies and events as part of this event from the early 1960s.

As awareness of the different cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people grew, this day was expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture. The annual event is now known as National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Hosted by a different city each year, NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.