Papers of Alick and Merle Jackomos

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Post date: 
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Esmai, Merle and Alick Jackomos, 1967, Melbourne, Victoria. (JACKOMOS.A02.CS-000092248)
Esmai, Merle and Alick Jackomos, 1967, Melbourne, Victoria.
(JACKOMOS.A02.CS-000092248)

Merle and Alick Jackomos have a long connection with AIATSIS. Alick Jackomos was a member of the AIATSIS Council in the 1990s and there is a room named after him in the AIATSIS building in Canberra. 

Upon hearing the news that the Jackomos family home, called Cummeragunga, was being sold, the Institute contacted Merle and Alick’s daughter, Esmai, to make arrangements for the preservation of her parents’ papers. 

The papers complete their documentation of the development of Victorian Aboriginal communities and support Alick’s extensive collection of Victorian Aboriginal genealogies and photographs already in AIATSIS hands.

Merle and Alick Jackomos’ papers document their activities in support of Aboriginal rights, and in particular Alick’s interests in the family histories of Victorian Aborigines and the history of Victorian Aboriginal reserves and settlements. Alick was second generation Greek from Castellorizo. His parents ran fish and chip shops in inner city Melbourne. As a child , Alick was friendly with Aboriginal families in Carlton and thereabouts. He stayed at Lake Tyers from time to time.

Alick Jackomos wearing a 'Harry John's Boxing Troupe' shirt, 1948
Alick Jackomos wearing a 'Harry John's Boxing Troupe' shirt, 1948.
(JACKOMOS.A01.BW-N02274_23)

During his time in the Army from 1942 to 1946, including overseas service, Alick made lifelong friendships with Aboriginal servicemen and their families in the Northern Territory, Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands. He also fought in many inter-service boxing matches and after leaving the Army he travelled Australia from 1947 until 1950 with boxing and wrestling troupes of Jimmy Sharman, Harry Paulson, Harry Johns and Chief Little Wolf.

Merle is a Yorta Yorta woman from Cummeragunga. She was among the people who walked off the Station and crossed into Victoria in 1939. She later returned to be with her grandfather who had remained on the Station, but left again when she turned 15 to become a domestic labourer. Later on Merle settled in Melbourne where she met and married Alick Jackomos in 1951.They had three children – Esmai, Andrew, and Michael.

Merle and Alick became strong advocates for Aboriginal rights. In the 1950s and 1960s they organised dances and social functions to raise funds for funerals, medical and welfare needs for the metropolitan Aboriginal community. They helped organise the annual formal Aboriginal balls and cabarets in Melbourne. Their papers include an almost complete set of invitations to the balls from 1966 until 1983, as well as the committee’s organising records.

With Doug Nicholls and Eric and Bill Onus, Margaret Tucker and many other Aboriginal leaders they helped re-establish the movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Merle and Alick were foundation members of the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League, formed by Pastor Doug Nicholls in 1957. In 1962 they joined Australian Aborigines League which became the all-Aboriginal branch of the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League. They were also involved in the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Straits Islanders (FCAATSI): Alick was Victorian State Secretary from 1964 to 1976; Merle was on the Federal Council from 1968 to 1978. Among many other responsibilities Merle was an executive member of the National Aboriginal Conference and remained a member until its abolition in 1985.

Last reviewed: 8 May 2018