Significant dates

Events, anniversaries and cultural celebrations

The following is a list of significant dates/months for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and where relevant, the events that celebrate them. Most events are open for everyone to participate.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019) to raise awareness of the crucial role languages play in people’s daily lives.

In Australia, of the estimated original 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, only around 120 are still spoken. Of these approximately 90 per cent are endangered.

IY2019 is an opportunity to continue raising awareness and taking further actions to improve preservation and promotion of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

13 February – National Apology

13 February marks the anniversary of the formal apology made in 2008 by the government and the Parliament of Australia to Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - in particular to the Stolen Generations. 

You can read or hear a transcript of the National Apology.

21 March – National Close the Gap Day

National Close the Gap Day is an annual event held to raise awareness of the Aboriginal health crisis.

Learn why closing the gap is so important. 

27 May – 1967 Referendum anniversary

In 1967 over 90 per cent of Australians voted in a Referendum to remove clauses from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Referendum also gave the Commonwealth Government the power to make laws on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

27 May to 3 June - National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates for National Reconciliation Week remain the same each year: 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey — the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

3 June – Mabo Day

Mabo Day celebrates the High Court's historic judgement delivered on 3 June 1992, accepting the claim from Eddie Mabo and the other claimants that their people had occupied the island of Mer before the arrival of the British. This is a day of particular significance for Torres Strait Islander Australians.

1 July – The Coming of the Light Festival

This is a particular day of significance for Torres Strait Islander Australians. It marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in the Torres Strait. The missionaries landed at Erub Island on 1 July 1871. 

Religious and cultural ceremonies are held by Torres Strait Islander Christians across the Torres Strait and on the mainland to commemorate The Coming of the Light

7 to 14 July – NAIDOC Week

National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians. All Australians are encouraged to participate in NAIDOC Week activities.

2019 theme is VOICE. TREATY. TRUTH.

4 August – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day and the week leading up to it, is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all 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.

9 August – International Day of the World's Indigenous People

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed annually to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous populations. This event also recognises the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. 

It was first pronounced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in 1982.

4 September – Indigenous Literacy Day

Indigenous Literacy Day aims to help raise funds to raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Australians living in remote and isolated regions. On Indigenous Literacy Day we need your support to help raise funds to buy books and literacy resources for children in these communities.

13 September – Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 61st session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007.