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2016

May

01
01 May
70th Anniversary of the Pilbara Aboriginal Stockmen's strike

At least 800 Aboriginal workers walked off their jobs in the Pilbara region of Western Australia on this day in 1946 as a protest against their working conditions. Until this point payment was received in handouts of flour, tobacco and other products rather than in cash wages and workers were often exploited. The strike officially lasted until 1949 though with many Aboriginal Australians refused to go back and work for the pastoral industry. 

26
26 May
National Sorry Day

This day, which has been held annually since 1998, is an opportunity to express sorrow for the tragic events that occurred to the Stolen Generations. 

27
27 May
1967 Referendum anniversary

The national referendum to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be counted in the census and to allow the Federal Government the power to make laws with regard to Indigenous Australians was passed on this day with a support rate of 97%. 

27
27 May - 03 June
National Reconciliation Week begins

National Reconciliation week has been held every year since 1996 in the week from the anniversary of the 1967 referendum to the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision in the Mabo case. It aims to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and assess what has been achieved in this process so far and what can be done in the future. 

28
28 May
Dreamtime at the 'G' AFL Match and AFL Indigenous Round

Part of AFL's Indigenous Round, the match between Essendon and Richmond held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been earmarked as 'Dreamtime at the G' since 2005 with teams competing for the Kevin Sheedy Cup. The Long Walk to 'Dreamtime at the G', inspired by AFL player Michael Long's 2004 walk to Canberra to raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in Parliament, is held before the match each year.

28
28 May
Sydney Reconciliation March anniversary

On the 28th of May, more than 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge over the course of five and a half hours in a show of support for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. The event occurred during Reconciliation Week as a part of Corroboree 2000 and in the months that followed over a million Australians participated in similar events around the country. 

 

29
29 May
Anniversary of the Torres Strait Islander Flag

The Torres Strait Islander flag was created in 1992 and designed by the late Bernard Namok of Thursday Island. It features a dhari traditional headdress, a five pointed star recognising the five main island groups and the colours green, blue, white and black representing the lands of Papua New Guinea and mainland Australia, the waters of the Torres Strait, peace and the Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

June

03
03 June
Mabo Day

Mabo Day commemorates Eddie Koiki Mabo and is the anniversary of the handing down of the High Court decision in the Mabo case. The case overturned the doctrine of terra nullius and gave recognition to the land rights of Indigenous Australians through the concept of native title. 

10
10 June
Barunga Festival

This festival invites audiences into a remote community, 70km south-east of Katherine, for a showcase of the region's community life and a celebration of music, dance, sport and culture, held over the Queen's Birthday long weekend (10th-12th June in 2016). 

10
10 June
Myall Creek massacre anniversary

On this day in 1838, up to 30 unarmed Aboriginal Australians were killed by predominately European settlers in Northern New South Wales. After two trials, seven of the eleven men were found guilty of murder and hanged.

July

01
01 July
145th Anniversary Coming of the Light Festival

The Coming of the Light is a holiday celebrated by Torres Strait Islanders on 1 July each year and commemorates the landing of the first Christian missionaries on Erub Island.

03
03 July - 12 July
NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements. In 2016 the theme for NAIDOC Week is 'Songlines: The Living Narrative of our Nation'. 

15
15 July
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The tropical Cairns waterfront is the setting for this three day (15th-17th July) display of visual art, music, performance and sharing of knowledge showcasing the art and culture of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

28
28 July
Garma Festival

The Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures is an annual festival celebrating the traditions of the Yolgnu people of Arnhem Land. In 2016 the theme is 'Our Land Our Backbone' to commemorate 40 years of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in the Northern Territory. 

August

04
04 August
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day

Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for Australians to show their support for Aboriginal children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.

09
09 August
International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9th each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous peoples.

14
14 August
Yirrkala Bark Petitions Anniversary

This day commemorates the presentation of bark petitions from the Yolngu people of Yirrkala to the Australian Parliament in 1963 in protest against the granting of mining rights to Nabalco on an Aboriginal land reserve. The petitions, written in the Yolngu language, were the first documentary recognition of Australia's Indigenous peoples accepted by the Australian Government.

16
16 August
Anniversary of the Return of land to Gurindji people

In 1975 then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam returned land ownership of a section of the Wave Hill station in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people, symbolically pouring the sand through the hands of Vincent Lingiari. 

September

02
02 September
Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation established in 1991

The Council was established as a result of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, with a mandate to advance a national process of reconciliation over a 10 year time frame. The Council as also tasked to address Aboriginal disadvantage in areas including employment, health infrastructure and economic development.

07
07 September
Indigenous Literacy Day

Hosted by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, this day raises awareness about efforts to improve literacy levels amongst Indigenous children, particularly those living in remote Australia.

28
28 September
Birthday of David Unaipon

The well-known Aboriginal inventor, preacher and writer of the Ngarrindjeri people was born on this day in 1872. His contributions to Australian society helped to overcome many stereotypes about Indigenous Australians and he is proudly commemorated on the $50 note. 

October

12
12 October
Sea of Hands first displayed in Canberra

The iconic sea of hands in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were first displayed as a public art installation on the lawn outside of Parliament House in October 1997. Each hand represented a signature on a petition distributed by ANTaR which mobilised non-Indigenous support for native title rights and reconciliation. 

25
25 October
Uluru returned to its traditional owners in 1985

After a long struggle by the Anangu people of the Western Desert Uluru was handed back to its traditional owners on this day in 1985 and it remains a symbolic event in the history of Aboriginal land rights. 

 

 

30
30 October
Racial Discrimination Act comes into effect in 1975

Australia's first piece of Federal anti-discrimination legislation came into force on this day in 1975. Described by the current Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane as 'the foundation of racial equality and multiculturalism' it still has widespread relevance to Australia's diverse society.