NAIDOC Week is a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s one of the most important events in the Indigenous calendar, and you might be surprised to hear that it all began with a letter to the churches of Australia.

The letter was sent by William Cooper, a legendary Aboriginal Christian leader and rights activist. In it he asked the church to observe what he was calling ‘Aboriginal Sunday’ – an annual day of prayerful awareness of Aboriginal people and their God-given place and future in this land.

From 1940 to 1954, ‘Aboriginal Sunday’ was observed by churches throughout Australia. It was initially held on the Sunday before Australia Day and was referred to as a 'National Day of Mourning' in recognition of the suffering and dispossession of Indigenous people since colonisation. In 1955, the date was changed to July and has since evolved into the week of celebration known as NAIDOC Week (named after the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee).

Australian churches continue to have a role to play in honouring William Cooper’s request and all of the Aboriginal men and women who have struggled for the survival and dignity of their people. During NAIDOC Week, you might like to consider a way to honour Aboriginal people or bring its significance to the attention of your own friends and faith congregation.

Why not take a few moments this week and pray for Indigenous Australians – for them to know the healing, hope and reconciliation that Jesus came to bring to all humanity. In addition, why not take the Australians Together journey, as we seek to bring indigenous and non-indigenous Australians together for an even better future. 

[Thanks to Stewart Bogle, Executive Director of Concilia, for the above text. ]