Time for public holiday to honour Land Rights in Australia

23 August 2016

Time for public holiday to honour Land Rights in Australia

NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Chair Roy Ah-See has called on communities to start the debate on a national event and public holiday to celebrate Land Rights.

Cr Ah-See said the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off was a significant milestone that warranted a broader discussion about honouring those who have fought for Land Rights.

He said a Land Rights Day or Land Rights Week was also an opportunity to show how ownership and recognition of land enriched Australia culturally and economically.

"Fifty years ago today, Vincent Lingiari led members of his Gurindji nation and others off Wave Hill station in protest against appalling working and living conditions. The protest soon became the spark for Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia and a blueprint for political advocacy over the following decades."

"There are so many highlights in the Land Rights movement in Australia including Wave Hill, the Tent Embassy, Land Rights legislation in the Northern Territory and New South Wales and the Mabo and Wik High Court Native Title decisions.

"While we all celebrate these great achievements as isolated events, we need to give serious consideration to a larger event that puts Land Rights on the national stage.

"In the broader community, there is a sense that Land Rights are seen as a negative issue but a stand-alone Land Rights Day or Land Rights Week and public holiday would help shift public opinion to a recognition of our rights and achievements.

"In New South Wales, we celebrate the achievements of our unique system of Land Rights which allows Local Aboriginal Land Councils to claim certain lands as freehold title. Local Aboriginal Land Councils make important contributions to the social, cultural and economic life of communities throughout New South Wales.

"A public holiday and national Land Rights Day or Land Rights Week presents an opportunity for Aboriginal people to celebrate connection to land and the ongoing fight for Land Rights throughout Australia."