2016 NAIDOC theme

The National NAIDOC theme for 2016 is:

Songlines: The living narrative of our nation

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures.

Dreaming tracks crisscross Australia and trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lores. These dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ as they record the travels of these ancestral spirits who 'sung' the land into life.

These Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups.

Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters.

The extensive network of Songlines can vary in length from a few kilometres to hundreds of kilometres, crossing through traditional Country of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups. For example, the Seven Sisters Songline covers more than half the width of the continent, from deep in the Central Desert out to the West Coast while others connect the Gulf of Carpentaria with the Snowy Mountains near Canberra.

Aboriginal language groups are connected through the sharing of Songlines with each language group responsible for parts of a Songline.

Through songs, art, dance and ceremony, Torres Strait Islanders also maintain creation stories which celebrate their connection to land and sea.  

Songlines have been passed down for thousands of years and are central to the existence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are imperative to the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices.

We invite all Australians to learn more about Songlines and explore those which have created the Country in your region. Learn how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are today using digital technologies and modern mediums to record and celebrate these ancient Songlines or dreaming stories.

Through learning more about Songlines and how they connect people to Country and the Country to people – we celebrate the rich history and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures - the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.

Past National NAIDOC themes and host cities:

  • 2015 We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn Respect & Celebrate (Adelaide)
  • 2014 Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond (Gold Coast)
  • 2013 We value the vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963 (Perth)
  • 2012 Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 years on (Hobart)
  • 2011 Change: the next step is ours (Sydney)
  • 2010 Unsung Heroes – Closing the Gap by Leading Their Way (Melbourne)
  • 2009 Honouring Our Elders, Nurturing Our Youth (Brisbane)
  • 2008 Advance Australia Fair? (Canberra)
  • 2007 50 Years: Looking Forward, Looking Blak (Darwin)
  • 2006 Respect the Past-Believe in the Future (Cairns)
  • 2005 Our Future Begins with Solidarity (Adelaide)
  • 2004 Self-determination-Our Community-Our Future-Our Responsibility (Perth)
  • 2003 Our Children Our Future (Hobart)
  • 2002 Recognition, Rights and Reform (Sydney)
  • 2001 Treaty-Let’s Get it Right (Melbourne)
  • 2000 Building Pride in Our Communities (Townsville)
  • 1999 Respect (Alice Springs)
  • 1998 Bringing Them Home (Broome)
  • 1997 Gurindji, Mabo, Wik-Three Strikes for Justice-Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum (Brisbane)
  • 1996 Survive-Revive-Come Alive (Adelaide)
  • 1995 Justice Not Tolerance (Perth)
  • 1994 Families Are the Basis of Our Existence-Maintain the Link (Melbourne)
  • 1993 Aboriginal Nations-Owners of the Land Since Time Began-Community is Unity (Darwin)
  • 1992 Maintain the Dreaming-Our Culture is Our Heritage (Canberra)
  • 1991 Community is Unity-Our Future Depends on Us (Sydney)
  • 1990 New Decade-Don’t Destroy, Learn and Enjoy Our Cultural Heritage (Tasmania)
  • 1989 The Party is Over-Let’s Be Together as an Aboriginal Nation (Darwin)
  • 1988 Recognise and Share the Survival of the Oldest Culture in the World (Brisbane)
  • 1987 White Australia Has a Black History (Perth)
  • 1986 Peace-Not For You-Not For Me But For All (Adelaide)
  • 1985 Understanding: It Takes the Two of Us (Melbourne)
  • 1984 Take a Journey of Discovery – To the Land My Mother (Adelaide)
  • 1983 Let’s Talk-We Have Something to Say
  • 1982 Race For Life For a Race
  • 1981 Sacred Sites Aboriginal Rights-Other Australians Have Their Rites
  • 1980 Treat Us to a Treaty on Land Rights
  • 1979 1979 International Year of the Child. What About Our Kids!
  • 1978 Cultural Revival is Survival
  • 1977 Chains or Change
  • 1976 Trucanini Last of her People Born 18?? . Died 1876. Buried 1976. Received Her Land Rights at Last
  • 1975 Justice for Urban Aboriginal Children
  • 1974 Self Determination
  • 1973 It’s Time For Mutual Understanding
  • 1972 Advance Australia Where?

We are researching the history of NAIDOC to provide better information on where the national focus was celebrated over the years and who won various awards. Our information is incomplete at present, but if anyone has any information to add in relation to National NAIDOC (as opposed to State or local celebrations/awards), please contact us.