Vic MP calls for half-mast flag on Jan 26

The Aboriginal flag should fly at half-mast on January 26 outside Victoria’s parliament and the day be recognised as one of mourning, the state’s first indigenous female MP says.

In a grievance motion to parliament on Wednesday, Greens MP Lidia Thorpe said she does not feel at home in parliament and more needs to be done to include indigenous Victorians.

“I recognise that the parliament of Victoria was established at a time when respect for the first peoples of this country was very low,” Ms Thorpe told the Legislative Assembly.

“But there have been many years between then and now and many opportunities to improve things.”

Ms Thorpe has written to the presiding officers calling for an Aboriginal Cultural Advisory Group to be created to provide ongoing advice about how to acknowledge the nation’s first people in and around state parliament.

“As an Aboriginal person, I don’t feel at home at parliament,” she said.

“I am surrounded by monuments to British colonialism and history. It’s as if Aboriginal history, art and culture doesn’t exist.”

Among her suggested changes is recognition of January 26, Australia Day and the anniversary of the First Fleet, as a day of mourning for first nations.

“It marks the invasion of this country and the beginning of massacres, the frontier wars and my people being removed from their land, stripped of their honour and culture and forced to live in prison camps,” Ms Thorpe said.

“I ask that a policy or protocol be introduced that the Aboriginal flag be flown at half mast on parliament house on the 26th of January in recognition of Aboriginal people’s view that it is a day of mourning.”

The Northcote MP also suggested a space for smoking ceremonies on parliament’s grounds, more welcome-to-country ceremonies and recognition of 38 Aboriginal languages as official languages of the parliament.

Ms Thorpe will wait for the parliamentary Speaker’s response to her proposals.

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