Your Introductory Guide to NAIDOC Week

This year's NAIDOC Week theme is 'Heal Country!' which calls for the recognition, protection and maintenance of all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Olivia Williams
Published on June 28, 2021

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all people of Australia to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In the past, the "National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee" were responsible for organising the events of NAIDOC Week, and since then the acronym has become the name of the event itself. 

NAIDOC Week will be held from Sunday, July 4 to Sunday, July 11 this year. Typically, NAIDOC Week kicks off on the first Sunday of July every year and runs for one week. The dates are a nod to National Aboriginal Day, which was previously celebrated on the second Friday of July.

The theme of NAIDOC Week this year is 'Heal Country!'. Grounded in Country, this theme calls for the recognition, protection and maintenance of all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. But in order to achieve this, it's essential that historical, political and administrative settings adapt in order to empower and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Check out the NAIDOC Week website for more information about the origins of the week and this year's theme. 


Image: Supplied by Clothing The Gaps.


To further understand what NAIDOC Week means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, @blakbusiness hosted an anonymous survey across Instagram. From Trawlwoolway to Kuku Yalanji, respondents came from over 30 Aboriginal and Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islands) nations.

When asked what NAIDOC Week means for them, the majority of respondents expressed ideas of community, pride and strength. "NAIDOC is a week of celebrating and coming together with mob from all over the country. It's a week that makes me very proud to be an Aboriginal person," one submission said.

Another respondent succinctly explained that NAIDOC Week for them was a "time of reflection, remembering important people in our community, a time to celebrate but also knowing what this week comes from. Knowing that it came from resistance, strength, fighting for justice, fighting against colonialism, white supremacy, ongoing acts of genocide, and celebration of invasion. NAIDOC is for us, and for many, it's a time to celebrate who we are unapologetically, loud and proud."

When asked about the importance of the theme Heal Country, one respondent explained the theme meant: "Protecting the earth, because we need her and she needs us. We came from the soil and mob who aren't with us have returned to the soil so we're looking after them too."

Another submission said of this year's NAIDOC Week theme, "[It means to ensure] we look after and preserve our Country, our roots, so that the next generations have a place to call home and connect to."

Respondents also shared thoughts about how they would like non-Indigenous peoples to be involved in NAIDOC Week. "I [would] love to see non-Indigenous Australia celebrating NAIDOC, getting involved in events, lending a hand, paying respect, and most importantly getting educated about our culture and our history and how they can help with healing and positive changes going forward," one anonymous respondent said.


Image: In My Blood It Runs.


As some of the responses above noted, NAIDOC Week presents a great opportunity to commit to learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, history and culture. But, it can be tricky to figure out where to start.

To help you out, here are some resources to check out: 


Strait to the Plate: A six-part series exploring the food, culture, language and lifestyle of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islands) communities.

In My Blood It Runs: An intimate 2019 documentary following ten-year-old, Dujuan, as he is challenged to balance his Arrernte and Garrwa culture with state education. 

You Can't Ask That — Indigenous: Part of the ABC series 'You Can't Ask That', this episode answers a range of questions about the experience of being Aboriginal.


Seed Mob: A branch of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Seed is a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth working to build a movement for climate justice.

Our Islands Our Home: Our Islands Our Home is a campaign led by the people of Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait Islands) to protect their island homes from the ongoing climate crisis. 

Blak Business: Brings together information, knowledge and resources to facilitate broader learning and discussion about a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics.


Fire Country by Victor Steffensen: Written by Tagalaka man and fire practitioner, Victor Steffensen, this book explores how the revival of Indigenous fire practices could help to restore our nation for all peoples.

Tell Me Why by Archie Roach: Written by Bundjalung and Gunditjmara man, Uncle Archie Roach, this is an intimate and powerful memoir into the experience of being forcibly removed as a child, being raised in foster families, struggling with alcoholism and homelessness, and overcoming it all with music. 

Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Adam Briggs: Written by Yorta Yorta man Adam Briggs, this is a good book for young readers to learn and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture. 


Image: Kee'ahn.


Hundreds of events will be hosted across the nation by schools, community centres, local councils, workplaces and sporting clubs to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

Here are five events happening IRL and online. For more events, research your local Aboriginal Land Council to see what is happening in your area.

Naarm (Melbourne)

Country and Culture: An evening of storytelling, poetry and music with Tony Birch (Aboriginal, Barbadian, Irish and Afghani), Larissa Behrendt (Eualaya and Kamillaroi) and Kee'ahn (Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal and Badu Island).

Meanjin (Brisbane)

Cultural Cooking: Learn about Aboriginal culture through tasting native foods with Quandamooka, Kullilli and Wakka Wakka man Keiron Anderson, of Yalabin Dining. This event is suitable for kids aged 10+. 

Boorloo (Perth)

Cultural Talk with Joe Collard: Listen to Biboolmirn Nyoongar man, Joe Collard, talk about culture and this year's NAIDOC theme. You can also check out the other events being hosted in South Perth Library


Free the Flag lunchtime yarn: Did you know the Aboriginal flag is currently under copyright? Clothing The Gaps are leading the campaign to have the Aboriginal flag freed. Join them for this lunchtime yarn to learn about the Aboriginal Copyright issue and the progress of the Free the Flag campaign

NAIDOC Virtual Run Walk Event: Get moving during NAIDOC Week with this virtual run or walk event. Nominate your distance of either 5km, 10km, 21.1km or 42.2km and be rewarded with a medal designed by Gunditjmara artist, Laura Thompson. 


Top image: Supplied by Clothing The Gaps. 

Published on June 28, 2021 by Olivia Williams
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