NAIDOC Week 2021: Heal Country, heal our nation

NAIDOC Week is a nationwide celebration of Aboriginal culture, heritage and history. The annual festivities unfold across Australia with exhibitions, workshops, symposiums, performance, song and dance, film, food, family fun days and much more.

We bring you a round-up of just a few of the free and ticketed online and in-person events taking place for ‘NAIDOC Week 2021: Heal Country, heal our nation’, from July 4 to 11, and beyond. Read more below, and add these events to your diary!

Michael Cook, Stickman (#2), 2010, inkjet on photo rag, edition AP 1/2, 40 x 100cm. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2016. Sunshine Coast Art Collection. Photograph: courtesy of the Sunshine Coast Art Collection. Courtesy the artist and Caloundra Regional Gallery

The NAIDOC Awards and ceremony acknowledges the outstanding achievements of Indigenous Australians whose work helps to empower the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples both in their local and wider reaching communities, and or recognises excellence in their chosen fields of practice. Due to recent Covid-19 alerts, the NAIDOC Awards presentation has been postponed for now. You can sign-up to the NAIDOC eNewsletter to receive the latest news and updates.

Each year, NAIDOC begins the journey with reflection on a new theme. In 2021, the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee NAIDOC, invites all Australians to observe the deeper meaning of Country and all it encompasses through the presentation of First Nations perspectives on ‘Heal Country, heal our nation’.

These words carry a poignant message for all Australians – they call on us to listen more intently to the voice and spirit of Country and invite us to seek a more profound understanding of the importance of protecting and caring for the land on which we all live, the waters that flow through it, and the many sacred Aboriginal sites that have existed within it for thousands of years.

“Country is inherent to our identity. It sustains our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally. It is more than a place. When we talk about Country it is spoken of like a person. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it has been this way since the dawn of time. Through our languages and songs, we speak to Country; through our ceremonies and traditions we sing to – and celebrate Country – and Country speak to us. Increasingly, we worry about Country.” – NAIDOC

Online Discussions

Tuesday July 6
Healing Country, Healing Futures: Aspirations for Country and Community hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Knowledge Institute in partnership with the Faculty of Science invites audiences to jump online for an interactive yarn about Healing Country with speakers Paris Mordecai,  Maddison Miller and Dr Ngaree Blow. Free.

Tuesday July 6
NGV Teens: Industry Connections with Maree Clarke welcomes young people (13-18 yrs) to join artists, industry leaders and creatives for an informal discussion highlighting the diverse roles and opportunities in the creative industries. Speakers Maree Clarke and Mitch Mahoney respond to the theme ‘Heal Country’, and Maree Clarke’s exhibition ‘Ancestral Memories’, hosted by an NGV Teen Councillor.


12.30pm on 20 July
The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra presents the NAIDOC Virtual Highlights Tour celebrating First Nations identity with portraits from the National Portrait Gallery collection. This free program is delivered via Zoom. Bookings are essential.

Until 11 July
At Williamstown Library in the Heritage Room ‘49 Years of NAIDOC’ looks back on five decades of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism and celebrations of culture across a display of posters from National Aborigines’ Day to current NAIDOC Week celebrations.

1 July to 28 August
The Caloundra Regional Gallery in Queensland presents NAIDOC 2021: Culture Remembered; Revitalised; Reactive a vibrant showcase of art, stories and cultural works with a focus on First Nations history and combined histories. At Frankston Arts Centre in Melbourne, Baluk Arts is celebrating ‘Heal Country, Heal Our Nation’ with an exhibition of artist works in ‘Heal Country’, which visualise the artist’s innate connections with Country. Entry is free.


ABC iview has a super line-up of short and premiere film screenings including Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, My Name is Gulpilil, and Dubboo: Life of a Songman.

July 4 and 10
The Metro North Health 2021 NAIDOC Virtual Event, invites audiences to go online to learn about the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with free screenings from First Nation businesses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders.

Get on board and immerse yourself in the vibrant and moving stories of the oldest living culture on Earth during ‘NAIDOC Week 2021: Heal Country, heal our nation’. To explore more of what’s on near you, and online, visit the NAIDOC Week events page. Be sure to check individual event websites for cancellations due to lockdowns.