Significant dates

Significant dates

Important dates and events

Below is a summary of formal and informal dates that correspond to milestones in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. The City of Sydney encourages the entire community to celebrate and commemorate Indigenous culture on these days.

Australia Day/Survival Day (Yabun Festival)
26 January

The Gadigal Information Service presents the Yabun Festival – which celebrates the ongoing survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures – on this day each year. Yabun is one of the most important arts and music events in Australia, reflecting the huge wealth of established and emerging Indigenous talent.

The apology to the Stolen Generations
13 February

On this day in 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered an apology "for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments in Australia that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss" to the Stolen Generations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

Harmony Day
21 March

Each year Harmony Day, which coincides with the Interational Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, celebrates the cohesive and inclusive nature of our nation and promotes the benefits of cultural diversity. The continuing message of Harmony Day is 'everyone belongs'. It's about community participation, inclusivity, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone in the Australian community.

National Close the Gap Day
21 March

Close the Gap is a coalition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations that are campaigning to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on life expectancy and overall health.

Anzac Day
25 April

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military veterans, the Coloured Digger March is held in Redfern on Anzac Day. The City of Sydney and its community partners support the march each year through sponsorship, grants and publicity campaigns.

National Sorry Day
26 May

The Bringing Them Home Report recommended that a National Sorry Day be held each year on 26 May, "to commemorate the history of forcible removals [of Aboriginal peoples] and its effects". As a result of recommendation number 7 in the report, the community-based organisation the National Sorry Day Committee was formed, with affiliated groups in each Australian state and territory.

1967 referendum
27 May

More than 90% of Australians voted yes to change the Australian constitution on Saturday 27 May 1967 after decades of campaigning for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The referendum shifted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs to the Commonwealth and removed a race clause that excluded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the national census.

National Reconciliation Week
27 May to 3 June

Each year, National Reconciliation Week celebrates the rich culture and history of the first Australians. It is the ideal time for everyone to join the reconciliation conversation and to think about how we can help turn around the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mabo Day
3 June

On this day in 1992 in its historic judgement, the High Court of Australia accepted the claim by Eddie Mabo and several other claimants, that their peoples had occupied the Murray islands, which are located in the Torres Strait, for hundreds of years before the British arrived. The decision gave native title to the claimants, in an Australian legal first, which effectively overturned the legal definition that Australia was 'Terra Nullius' (a land belonging to no-one) when Australia was colonised by Europeans.

First week of July

National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebrations (NAIDOC) Week occurs between the first and second Sunday in July each year to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is not only celebrated in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by participating in a range of events and activities.

Coming of the Light Festival (Torres Strait Islands)
1 July

This festival marks the day when the London Missionary Society first arrived in Torres Strait in 1871, with the society introducing Christianity to the region. It is a significant day for Torres Strait Islander communities across the region and in mainland Australia.

National Aboriginal and Islander Children's Day (NAICD)
4 August

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care organises this day each year, to raise awareness around the significance of providing a safe, nurturing and healthy environment for Indigenous children. The aim of the day is to enhance family relationships, which can lead to positive consequences for the wellbeing, self-esteem, sense of belonging, and resilience of Indigenous children.

Human Rights Day
10 December

This day marks the anniversary of the United Nations (UN) adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration sets out certain rights that are the basic and minimum set of rights for all of the world's peoples. Commemorating, educating and reflecting on the principles that formed the declaration, means celebrating the rights we exercise every day as Australians, and acknowledging that by enjoying those rights, it carries with it the responsibility of promoting and upholding those rights for all peoples.


Close the Gap Day Coming of the Light Festival Coloured Digger March Gadigal Information Service Harmony Day Human Rights Day Mabo Day NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebrations) National Reconciliation Week Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care

Last updated: Monday, 22 May 2017