Significant dates and events for Aboriginal peoples

There are a number of significant dates and events for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These include:

Survival Day - January 26

January 26 is a significant date for all Australians but for varying reasons - it is Australia Day, Survival Day and also sometimes referred to as Invasion Day. Some see it as a celebration, but for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is a day of mourning. More information on the meaning of January 26 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples visit Creative Spirits.

Apology Day - February 13 

On 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved a Motion of Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples in the House of Representatives apologising for past laws, policies and practices that devastated Australia’s First Nations Peoples – in particular members of the Stolen Generations. 

National Close the Gap Day - around 2 April each year

National Close the Gap Day commemorates the launch of the campaign on 2 April 2007, and is held each year around that time. The day gives people the opportunity to show their support for closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians. More information can be accessed at Oxfam Close the Gap.

National Sorry Day - May 26

National Sorry Day is an annual day of commemoration and remembrance of all those who have been impacted by the government policies of forcible removal that have resulted in the Stolen Generations. For more information visit the Bringing Them Home WA and

In 1998, Western Australian Kerry Fletcher wrote the Sorry Song on behalf of all of us whose hearts ache when we think of the pain those children and communities suffered and the pain which they still endure today.

Visit to view the lyrics, download the sheet music or watch/listen to the full version of this song.  

1967 Referendum - May 27 

The 1967 referendum made history: Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for Aboriginal people. As a result of the political climate, this referendum saw the highest YES vote ever recorded in a Federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for change. For more information visit Creative Spirits and the National Archives of Australia.

National Reconciliation Week - May 27 - June 03

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey - the anniversaries of the successful referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort. May 27 marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.

National Reconciliation Week

Mabo Day - June 03

On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title. 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision. Visit AIATSIS for more information.

NAIDOC Week - first full week of July

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.

NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.

UN International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples - 09 August

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognises the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
Source: United Nations