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ATSIC seeks national holiday to celebrate NAIDOC.

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Media Release

ATSIC Seeks National Holiday to Celebrate NAIDOC


1 July 2000


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner deputy chairman Commissioner Ray Robinson has marked the opening of NAIDOC Week 2000 tomorrow (Sunday) with a call for a national public holiday.

Commissioner Robinson said there would be no better way to start the Centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001 than to declare a national holiday during the NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week.

NAIDOC, established in 1957, celebrates and promotes understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with a week of community-based events including flag-raising ceremonies, concerts, religious services, art, sporting events and family days.

It actively involves Governments at national, state and local levels, non-Government organisations and churches as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Commissioner Robinson, the NAIDOC Committee chairman, said: “NAIDOC Week is becoming increasingly significant each year and there are even celebrations overseas in countries such as Japan.

“But this event would be even more meaningful if we had a national holiday that gave all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous an equal chance to celebrate our culture.

“We have one national holiday celebrating Australia which causes distress to many of my people because it commemorates Invasion Day.

“Why can’t we have a national holiday which all Australians can share in and enjoy?

“Such a holiday would make a unique and important statement about national unity.

“The Federal Government talks about practical reconciliation and a fair go. A national holiday would be a practical way for this Government to show some commitment to the Indigenous people of this nation.”

The first national NAIDOC celebrations of a new century focus on the theme “Building Pride In Our Communities”.

Commissioner Robinson said: “Building Pride In Our Communities is an expression of our aspirations towards self-determination and increasing control over our own lives, environments, and destinies.

“It is fundamental to the creation of a proud and special nation.

“These celebrations will carry forward the spirit of those magnificent reconciliation marches which were supported by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians in four capital cities and many regional centres.

“They will bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to celebrate a culture and heritage which has survived for at least 50,000 years.

“I urge all Australians to take advantage of the many local opportunities to gain an appreciation of their nation’s oldest culture, to learn, share and join in.”

The focus of national celebrations during the NAIDOC Week between July 2 and July 9 is Townsville.

Events in Townsville include the National NAIDOC Ball on July 8 where National NAIDOC Awards are made to Indigenous achievers.

“These awards acknowledge the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are playing a significant role in developing Australia's future in a wide diversity of fields.

“They not only recognise the sporting prowess of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander which is renowned throughout Australia but also artistic, academic, and career skills.

“They also pay tribute to our elders and youth.”

The Ball features local traditional and contemporary artists as well as singer Christine Anu.

The Townsville event has also attracted a host of Indigenous celebrities including Anthony Mundine only days after his first international boxing bout and his father, former national boxing champion, Tony Mundine.

Further information Paul Molloy 0419 690 926 National Media and Marketing Office


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