The Christian Heritage of NAIDOC

Michael WilliamsonToday completes NAIDOC week across Australia – celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Historically, NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’ and it was specifically the initiative of an Aboriginal Christian, William Cooper.

Cooper was taught to read and write by missionaries and came into a personal relationship with Jesus. Cooper believed that the best thing that had happened for Australia’s first peoples was the Christian missions. He believed all people are made in the image of God and are children of God.

Cooper would argue passionately from the Bible that aboriginals ought to be treated as equal citizens in this country. In 1935, after his petitions to King George V and Prime Minister Lyons fell on deaf ears, Cooper coordinated Aboriginal marches through the streets of Sydney and Melbourne on Australian Day 1936 – called ‘The day of Mourning.’

Cooper then sought help from his friends in the church to establish ‘Aboriginal Sunday,’ to pray for the success of missions and ‘the uplift of the dark people.’ It quickly caught on. The first ‘Aborigines Sunday’ was 28 January 1940.

Eventually, almost all churches had special prayers for the aboriginal peoples on the Sunday before Australia Day. That ‘Aborigines Sunday’ down the track was shifted to later in the year and now a full week, ‘NAIDOC week.’ Eternity News JULY 12TH, 2014

Long may the voices of Australian Christians be heard in public and in prayer, petitioning for respect and care for the oppressed in this land.


We acknowledge the Dharawal people,
the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet (Psalm 24:1-2)

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