Indigenous leaders are calling on Victoria to make way on the full holiday calendar to formally mark NAIDOC week.
As the 2022 NAIDOC week draws to a close, the democratically elected First People’s Assembly of Victoria has launched a petition to create a national holiday on NAIDOC Day.
“We have holidays for horse racing, 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,” reads the online petition.
Victoria has the most full public holiday of any Australian state or territory at 13, including before the Melbourne Cup and on the eve of the AFL grand final.
A public holiday on NAIDOC Day would highlight the importance of the week and encourage the community to show their commitment to create a better future together, said meeting co-chair Marcus Stewart.
“Imagine how deadly it would be to have a public holiday in future NAIDOC weeks to really mark its significance,” said the Nira illim bulluk man.
“New Zealand celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Waitangi Treaty with a holiday. It is time for Victoria to have an official day to also celebrate the First Peoples.”
The origins of NAIDOC Week can be traced back to the rise of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s that sought to raise awareness of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Australians from the Torres Strait.
“Instead of a holiday rubbing salt in the wounds of our community, a holiday on NAIDOC Day would be inclusive and an opportunity to educate everyone about our history and culture,” said meeting co-chair Aunt Geraldine Atkinson.
Thousands marched through central Melbourne on Friday as part of the NAIDOC Week festivities as the state moves forward with its truth and treaty process.