NAIDOC Week 2020 – ‘Always was, Always will be’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this webpage contains the images and names of people who have passed away.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country on which we at History House meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and recognise their continuing connection to the land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

The theme of NAIDOC Week in 2020 is ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’. In recognition of this theme, it is appropriate to briefly highlight the unique history of protest that led to the creation of NAIDOC and to celebrate the activism of Dr Evelyn Scott during her lifetime, who was recently featured as part of our Women’s History Month.

The event we now know as NAIDOC Week was formed as the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee in 1957[1]. Originating in 1938 from the advocacy by William Cooper and others, a trend toward an annual event came a year later after widespread support after the first Day of Mourning [2]. Aborigines Day as it became known from 1940 until 1957 also expanded its focus to include a celebration of First Nations cultures and peoples culminating in 1991 as NAIDOC as both to recognise Torres Strait Islander peoples and a whole week of recognition[3].

With this expansion of recognition, it is appropriate to acknowledge the life and achievements of Dr Eveyln Scott. A true driver of change, she spearheaded the 1967 Referendum to change the Constitution, became the first general-secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islanders and was chair of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation during the Corroboree Bridge Walk in 2000[4].

These achievements are the result of a life’s work in changing Australian society for the better. Against the overt and systemic racism, she led and fought for the advancement of First Nations people of this country as well as a monumental effort towards reconciliation. Further education around NAIDOC Week including an end of week performance by award-winning singer Archie Roach can be found at Education NSW’s website.

Always Was, Always Will Be.

 

Reference List

[1] Australian Government. “NAIDOC Week”. Australian Government, last modified 14 February 2011,<https://web.archive.org/web/20130503183236/http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/naidoc-week>, accessed 12 November 2020.

[2] NAIDOC. “NAIDOC History”. NAIDOC, last modified 4 September 2019, <https://www.naidoc.org.au/about/history>, accessed 11 November 2020.

[3] Ibid.

[4]‘Because of Her, We Can- Evelyn Scott’, Reconciliation Australia, 9 July 2018, <https://www.reconciliation.org.au/the-monumental-legacy-of-dr-evelyn-scott-ao/>, accessed 11 November 2019.

Published online: 12 November 2020

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