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Australia Celebrates NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Source: naidoc.org.au

The NAIDOC 2021 theme is “Heal Country!”

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’.

And this year is held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia's national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians.

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

The Uluru Statement From The Heart (Uluru Statement) represents a historic consensus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in seeking constitutional change to enable a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.

The journey towards the Uluru Statement has been long and challenging. In 1937, Yorta Yorta elder William Cooper petitioned King George VI calling for representation in parliament.

The Yirrkala Bark Petitions (1963), the Larrakia Petition (1972) and the Barunga Statement (1988) are just some examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s efforts to find a fair place in the Australian nation.

Australia is the only country in the world yet to formally recognise its Indigenous people in the form of a treaty or constitutional recognition, unlike our key allies such as Canada and New Zealand.

In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard announced that if he was to win the 2007 Election, within 18 months, he would hold a referendum to change the constitution to recognise the “special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first peoples of our nation”.

In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard established the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, beginning a renewed national focus on finding a path towards a referendum.

This political focus culminated in the establishment of the Referendum Council in 2015 by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

The Referendum Council built on previous work done by other committees and reports and was tasked with engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their views on real and meaningful recognition in the Constitution.

The Council established 12 First Nations Regional Dialogues, which engaged over 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates on a number of existing proposals for constitutional change.

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