The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria has called on the Victorian state government to declare a new public holiday for all Victorians to fall on the Friday of NAIDOC Week to align with the March each year.
NAIDOC Week is an annual occasion of remembrance and resistance that has evolved into a national celebration of community, cultures and Country, alongside our collective resilience and survival as custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures.
It was around the 1920s time when the powerful advocacy of Uncle William Cooper, including his landmark 1935 petition to King George V, called specifically for designated Aboriginal electorates in the Federal Parliament.
This is why a public holiday of remembrance and celebration of Aboriginal histories and cultures would be best placed in this week.
The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is Heal Country which speaks to the inherent rights our Traditional Owners possess to care for ‘Country’ across the nation. Exercising these rights is essential for First Nation people to protect, celebrate and heal.
Every year, it becomes more difficult for anyone to argue that January 26 is the most appropriate and inclusive date for a national celebration. It’s acknowledged as a day of hurt and mourning for Aboriginal people – a reminder of a violent legacy of discrimination and dispossession, and their apparent inability as a society to move forward together in healing.
The Assembly has made every effort to practise what they preach. They have declared this Friday 9 July of NAIDOC Week a day of leave for all their staff – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – and their elected Members to join in the celebrations and reflect on their past as they work towards a brighter future.
They want to encourage the Victorian Government, and all Victorian businesses, organisations, and employers to follow their lead and do the same.