Indigenous leaders are calling for Victoria to make room on its packed public holiday calender to formally mark NAIDOC Week.
As 2022 NAIDOC Week draws to a close, the democratically elected First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has started a petition to create a NAIDOC Day public holiday.
“We have public holidays for horse races, invasions, footy games, wars and the birthday of foreign monarchs, but we don’t have a day to share and celebrate the history and culture of First Peoples,” the online petition reads.
Victoria has the equal most full public holidays of any Australian state or territory at 13, including for the Melbourne Cup and on the eve of the AFL grand final.
A NAIDOC Day public holiday would highlight the week’s importance and encourage the community to show their commitment to creating a better future together, assembly co-chair Marcus Stewart said.
“Imagine how deadly it would be to have a NAIDOC Day public holiday in future NAIDOC Weeks to truly mark its significance,” the Nira illim bulluk man said.
“New Zealand celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Waitangi Treaty with a public holiday. It’s time that Victoria had an official day that celebrates First Peoples too.”
NAIDOC Week’s origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s that sought to raise awareness of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
“Rather than a public holiday that rubs salt into our community’s wounds, a NAIDOC Day public holiday would be inclusive, and would be an opportunity to educate everyone about our history and our culture,” fellow assembly co-chair Aunty Geraldine Atkinson said.
Thousands marched through central Melbourne on Friday as part of NAIDOC Week festivities, as the state forges ahead with its truth and treaty process.