The 2022 NAIDOC March on Kaurna Yarta coincides with the Family Fun Day for the first time since the pandemic – but, as this year’s theme highlights, First Nations-led calls for justice continue all year round. (Image: Anisha Pillarisetty)
By Anisha Pillarisetty | @nishkinsilk
On the way to Tarntanyangga (Victoria Square) on July 8, miniature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags catch the eye across the street – bobbing bright against the grey of the bitumen as children weave through foot traffic.
The NAIDOC March and Family Fun Day hasn’t officially begun, and Tarntanyangga is already brimming with activity; stalls run along either side, toy whistles punctuate the bustle and dozens more of the flags thread through the crowds.
Reminiscent of the 2021 march, Kaurna and Narungga Elder Jeffrey Newchurch – who this year won the Premier’s NAIDOC Award for outstanding community achievements – holds the mic up for the children on stage to welcome the crowd; each of their voices joining the next, until the last one is met with laughter and cheering.
For the first time since the pandemic began, the NAIDOC Family Fun Day, organised by the NAIDOC SA Committee, will follow the march.
Despite the SA Committee having to cancel NAIDOC events in 2020, and scaling back to just the march in 2021, various other calls for First Nations self-determination have continued.
Adjunct Professor and CEO of the Lowitja Institute Janine Mohamed reflects on this “proud history” of First Nations-led movements for justice in her 2022 NAIDOC speeches.
“NAIDOC Week can’t just be a tick box, where people invite us in for one week of the year, listen, take some notes, and then go back to business as usual,” Mohamed says.
“We need to celebrate and take pride in our First Nations peoples every day of the week and to examine our role in continuing injustice and inequity.
“And to me, this year’s NAIDOC theme encapsulates this idea.”
This year’s theme is “Get up, stand up, show up” – which, Mohamed says, is a “call to action to non-Indigenous people, to the broader community and to the institutions and organisations that we work with and within”.
The 2022 march will be Kokatha Elder Joyleen Thomas’ last as chairperson, after nearly two decades on the South Australian NAIDOC committee.
Those up front turn to look when Thomas says, “Put your hand up Commissioner Dale!”.
Dale Agius, South Australia’s first Commissioner for First Nations Voice, is one of the many faces among the swell of banners and flags across North Terrace.
“We want to be sitting and we want to be heard in this place behind us,” Thomas continues. “And we come out like this every year – we have to say to those politicians whether they’re Liberal, Labor, Greens, or whoever they are: we want our voice heard.”
Agius, who will be consulting with Aboriginal groups to implement the state-based Uluru Statement from the Heart as well as liaising with the Federal Government, says the next twelve months will be busy.
“I’m going to come out and talk to our mob to see how we talk to this place and get our voices heard,” he says.