More Thoughts from Our Community

More Thoughts from Our Community

The 26th of January is known to many as Australia Day and to many others Invasion or Survival Day. The date has long been a topic of debate among Australians due to its dramatically varying significances from one person to the next. Some see it as a time of mourning, others as a day of celebration.

Following on from our last journal entry, we share two more voices from our community with their personal thoughts around the 26th of January as a date of celebration.

The 26th is a day where I need to avoid online activities. Our mental health is too important.

Even as a Aboriginal Mental Health Worker serving my community I still struggle with this day. People’s online racist attitudes does nothing but prove we need to abolish the date and remove the crown and have our own sovereignty. 

Ailsa Walsh
Artist, Lardil / Kullili / Yuggera

By now we are well aware of the genocide, terrorism and destruction the Commonwealth continue to reign on First Nations people and on our unceded lands since 26 January 1788. 

Unfortunately from my experience the wider public don’t seem to care about indigenous perspectives, instead I would like to approach this topic in a way that illustrates what “Australia Day” implies and what it ignores.
In the words emblazoned on the official Australia Day website “We’re all part of the story”, however the 26th of January only acknowledges the British part of the story. Marking the 26th of January as Australia Day is British centric and holds British “first contact” and “discovery” as the ultimate marker for Australian history. This purposely roots Australia Day, and thus Australia, in white supremacy.
The 26th of January ignores the fact this continent was already a place of sovereign nations and diverse cultures for millennia - these lands are still unceded. The date excludes the contributions of every other foreign nation that migrated and traded with the first nations people of this continent pre British invasion. The date also ignores every non-British migrant and their descendants who have since contributed to this nation. Centring the Australian narrative around the day of colonisation is not ignorance, it’s an act of oppression and a reminder of British conquest and tyranny.
This continent always was and always will be a collection of ancient, unique, diverse and rich cultures. If we truly are “All part of the story” Australia must reflect this sentiment without centring a public celebration on British Invasion.
Whether the call is to change the date or abolish the date, the main take away is that 26th of January is not the date to celebrate.
Nathaniel Blackman
Model, Mbarburum / Gureng

Reading next

How to Support the Indigenous Community on January 26th
Naidoc 2021 Theme - Heal Country!

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