NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #AustraliaDay or #InvasionDay #ChangetheDate Debate : Editorial from @KenWyattMP @LindaBurneyMP and Marion Scrymgour

“We can have anger at the past, the pain and the hurt … but at some point we’ve got to give our children a better future.

It’s not about Captain Arthur Phillip landing in Sydney. It’s about the way we’ve grown firstly into a federation, but … a country of incredible people.

The colour of our skin did matter once, but it doesn’t anymore.

It’s about a society that has many hues of colour.”

Strongly supporting the date of the national day remaining as it is,  Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said Australia’s history was marked with events “that none of us on reflection like”. See full SMH Article Part 1 below

How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country?

Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation.

Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day.

Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Marion Scrymgour is a former CEO of Wurli Wurlinjang Aboriginal Corporation and Chairperson of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory. Currently CEO Tiwi Islands Regional Government, and formerly a senior Minister in the NT Cabinet : see in full Part 2 Below

 ” As another Australia Day comes around, calls get louder to change the date, or the name. To Indigenous Australians, January 26 marks an invasion. But as international law expert Rowan Nicholson explains today, it does to international law as well.

He writes that while we don’t need European law, which was tainted by racism and colonialism, to validate the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the landing of the British on Australian soil counts as an invasion based on their legal definitions at the time.

So if it was an invasion according to the Indigenous peoples and the colonisers, perhaps the term shouldn’t be so contentious after all.”

Read The Conversation HERE 

Pay the Rent.  “It is the theme of this year’s Invasion Day rally in Melbourne.

Pay The Rent is not a new concept.

It’s something that our old people came up with over 40 years ago. It was developed and fully endorsed by the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation (NAIHO) in the 1970s. NAIHO (a uniquely grassroots, representative organisation of Aboriginal people from all over Australia) was how our people grew the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health movement from the first Aboriginal health services in Redfern and Fitzroy to a nation-wide network of over 80 services within 10 years.

It was a remarkably successful large-scale self-help movement. We are reviving it to help ourselves.”

From The Big Smoke

It is possible to enjoy January 26 – to celebrate our country, and our many achievements – but it is equally important to reflect on our difficult and painful past.

While the dispossession and separation of First Nations families first occurred many years ago – it continues in different shapes and forms today.

The impact – through intergenerational trauma – can be seen and felt to this day.

We can see this in the disparity in quality of life outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

If you would like to spend Australia Day as a day of reflection as well as a day of celebration, there are many ways to do this. They do not conflict “

Linda Burney ALP Sydney Member for Barton  : See in full Part 3 below

Part 1 : Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt says Australia Day should remain on January 26 and commemorations around the country instead mark both the “good and the bad” of the nation’s history since 1788.

In an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Wyatt said Australia’s “dark beginnings” must be recognised in communities across the country but not overshadow celebrations of the “remarkable” multicultural country it has become.

Cautious about engaging in the culture war that has increasingly plagued the occasion, Mr Wyatt said the day was an opportunity for Australians of all backgrounds to bond as a nation but also acknowledge that many First Nations people found it difficult.

He said “first and foremost” it was a day to celebrate “the good things in life” with family, friends and community and respect each other’s contribution to the nation.

“Forget the date. Let’s celebrate what we have. Let’s celebrate our place as Indigenous Australians in Australian society. And let’s celebrate our achievements, our resilience, and the contribution that we are now making to broader Australian society,” he said.

Mr Wyatt, who is the first Indigenous man to be Minister for Indigenous Australians, said instead of rallying to move the date, Australians must engage in a new generation of “truth telling”.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt wants more recognition for indigenous Australians.

He said monuments such as the one erected at Myall Creek marking one of the darkest events in Australia’s colonial history were a positive step forward.

“Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people came together, acknowledged their past history of an event that left a deep scar.”

He said if that could be replicated across our nation, including the dual naming of towns and regions, it would be “an incredible step forward”.

“There is much to celebrate, there is much to remember, [but] let’s take the positive aspects of life,” Mr Wyatt said.

He said he knew some Indigenous leaders would be “disappointed” with his “optimism”.

“I think it is more important that if we want to change the future, that we have to be at the forefront of wanting those changes, because we see the benefits that will be derived from it,” he said.

“What I love about the generation of young people coming through now is that they are optimistic. They see an incredible future ahead of themselves.”

Mr Wyatt said First Australians were entitled to be angry at the past and conceded the 1950s Australia he grew up in was not a place he liked.

“What I like now is the Australia that I see today,” he said.

“We’ve merged so many cultures and so many practices and different ways. What I like also is the way in which Indigenous culture and our history is being accepted readily into the Australian psyche.”

Part 2  : Reasons for changing the date

The debate about whether Australia Day should be changed to a date other than the 26th of January has in recent times been focussed on the offensiveness to many Indigenous Australians of using the commemoration of the establishment of an English colony in New South Wales as the foundation narrative of our national identity.

The objection articulated by advocates for change is that it ignores, marginalises or diminishes Indigenous history and culture, and fails to acknowledge past injustices (some still unresolved).

Personally I think the objection is valid, but I accept that there are differing views.

However, it is not necessary to even get into that argument to be persuaded conclusively that there should be a change of date. Let’s park the issues relating to Aboriginal people to one side and look at what the 26th of January represents and symbolises for Australians generally, and at how patently incompatible with our modern national identity it is as a selected national day.

The 26th of January marks the beginning of what sort of enterprise? What sort of uplifting and inspirational human endeavour?

The answer is that it was a penal settlement. A remote punishment farm to warehouse the overflow from Britain’s prisons. A place of brutality and despair conceived out of a desire to keep a problem out of sight and out of mind.

Modern Australia has its flaws. Some may want to argue the toss over Don Dale or Manus Island, but the reality is that we are a civilised, enlightened and fair people. We embrace those values in ourselves and in each other.

We all recognise how lucky we are to live in a tolerant society where diversity and difference are accepted and mateship and hard work are encouraged. We cherish our autonomy and freedom. A national day should resonate with and reflect those values.

The way it can do that is by reminding us of something in our past which either brought out the best in our national character, or else represented a step along the path to our unique Australian identity.

Potential examples are many, but might include these: Kokoda; the first Snowy River hydro scheme (with its harnessing of migrant workers from all over Europe coming to seek a better life after the second world war); the abolition of the white Australia policy in 1966; the passage of the Australia Act in 1986 (when Australia’s court system finally became fully independent).

One thing I know for sure is that when we look into history’s mirror for some event or occasion that allows us to see ourselves as we aspire to be, the last and most alien screen we would contemplate downloading and sharing as emblematic of ourselves as Australians would be Sydney Cove in 1788.

You just have to pause and think about it for a moment to be able to reject the concept as ludicrous. And yet that is the status quo that has become entrenched in our national calendar, through a process which has been more recent and less considered than most would be aware of.

In my view it is a matter of historical logic that Australia’s national day cannot be one which commemorates something which happened before Australia itself was created. That happened in 1901 when the various colonies joined together in a single federation in which each of them was transformed into an entity called a “state”.

The new Australian states were modelling themselves on the American colonies which had joined together to become the United States of America.

Many of those colonies already had a long prior history since they had been established by European settlers and in most cases they were much prouder of their origins than those new Australian states which had started off as penal settlements.

But if anyone, then or since, had proposed that the national day for the USA should be some day commemorating the early history of some individual colony, they would have been howled down by Americans.

The American national day celebrates the independence of the unified whole, not a way-station in the history of a pre-independence colony. It should be the same with us.

If any recent event should have served to underscore the lack of fit between the date on which our national day is currently celebrated and our contemporary political reality it is the disqualifying of Federal Parliamentarians who have belatedly discovered that they are British citizens.

Just think about that for a moment. The colony of New South Wales was established on behalf of the British Crown.

Then when the country called Australia was created in 1901, its people were classed as British subjects. Stand-alone citizenship came later and things have been slowly and fundamentally changing. In 2018 Britain is a foreign country and if you are a citizen of that country you are excluded from being elected to our Australian parliament.

That is because it is recognised that there are conflicting interests and allegiances.

How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country? Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation.

Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day.

Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Part 3 : It is that time of the year again when opinions are offered about the suitability of 26 January as our national day. Linda Burney MP

There are some who oppose it and some who support it.

We appear to be at an impasse on this.

But I believe we are mature enough as a nation to face a proper discussion about it.

The National Australia Day Council recognises this discussion has become a big part of the day and it is encouraging Australians to ‘reflect, respect, celebrate’ on 26 January.

  • Reflect on ‘what it means to be Australian’;
  • Respect ‘differing views’ on Australia Day; and
  • Celebrate ‘contemporary Australia and to acknowledge our history’.

But it is important for all of us engaged in this debate to understand the challenges and opportunities.

On the one hand – right or wrong – is that many Australians are simply unaware of the historical and political context of the date.

On the other, if we understand the history of Australia Day we can understand why it is such a painful day for Indigenous Australians – this is the notion of ‘truth-telling’.

Australia Day means many things.

It commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at what became known as Sydney Cove.

And yet the date and name of Australia Day itself was only relatively recently settled – at one point, it was set in July.

It is a day to celebrate our achievements and those who have contributed to our country.

For some, it is simply a public holiday to rest and relax with friends and family.

I represent the electorate of Barton. It is one of the most multicultural electorates in the nation with many residents from migrant backgrounds.

And while many of them tell me that they understand why 26 January is a complex day, it is also a day for them to reflect on how grateful for the life they have been able to build for themselves and their family here in Australia.

For others – especially for our retail and hospitality workers – it can be a day to earn penalty rates and take home a bit of extra pay to meet bills and other expenses.

But it needs to be understood that, for First Nations people like me, 26 January is a reminder, not only of the dispossession and injustice, but also our strength and survival as a people and as a culture.

Surely it is possible for us to learn, not only about the view from the boats that arrived, but the view from those on shore whose way of life changed forever.

The opportunity for proponents of changing the date is in understanding different perspectives – not condemning people for not being aware of the discussion, or for not picking a side.

Change and progress means bringing people with you.

It is possible to enjoy January 26 – to celebrate our country, and our many achievements – but it is equally important to reflect on our difficult and painful past.

While the dispossession and separation of First Nations families first occurred many years ago – it continues in different shapes and forms today.

The impact – through intergenerational trauma – can be seen and felt to this day.

We can see this in the disparity in quality of life outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

If you would like to spend Australia Day as a day of reflection as well as a day of celebration, there are many ways to do this. They do not conflict.

Why not start your Australia Day with the Wugulora Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo? You can also head over to the Yabun Festival – a wonderful festival embracing of all and celebrating survival – at Victoria Park in Camperdown which begins later in the morning for some great performances, food and other activities.

As for me, I will begin the day by attending a citizenship ceremony hosted by Bayside Council; followed by an Australia Day event at the Marrickville Library; and of course wrapping things up at Yabun.

By all means, celebrate Australia Day, but let’s use it as a day of reflection as well.

This opinion piece was originally published in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times on Sunday, 26 January 2020

LINDA BURNEY

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health debate #changethedate #australiaday : #InvasionDay, #SurvivalDay, or Day of Mourning?

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“Many of our people call it Invasion Day … to many Indigenous Australians, in fact, most Indigenous Australians, it really reflects the day in which our world came crashing down,” the prominent Indigenous leader and academic said.

The idea that it’s not appropriate to hold a national celebration on the date the first fleet arrived in Sydney cove in 1788 to begin the process of Indigenous dispossession wasn’t new. It wasn’t even the first time an Australian of the Year had said so. Lowitja O’Donoghue pleaded for a date change after she was honoured in 1984. It’s even more widespread now.

Mick Dodson explained succinctly why he thought Australia’s national day is celebrated on the wrong date after accepting his Australian of the Year award in 2009. See article 3 below from the Guardian

“It is critical that more Australians understand why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often feel that 26 January is an inappropriate day for celebration.

Australia Day has diverse meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; some see it as a day of invasion, a day of mourning and of assertion of sovereignty; some see it as a day of survival.

Considering these meanings, it must be recognised that holding Australia Day on 26 January does not make for inclusion and celebration of our nation and all its peoples possible.”

Reconciliation Australia believes Australia Day must be inclusive, unifying, and be supported by all Australians. It should be a day when we come together as a unified people – a day when all Australian’s rights, histories and cultures are valued as part of a shared national identity

Justin Mohamed, CEO of Reconciliation Australia (former Chair of NACCHO ) Article 2 below

 ” Every year on the 26th of January I wonder a bit about how I am going to refer to the day, Invasion Day, Survival Day or Day of Mourning? Over the years I have referred to it as all of these, and I think the choice I make reflects a bit about the mood I am in at that time, where I am at in life, and where Australia is in general.

Photo above NITV : Each of the names captures an important part of what this date represents.

Invasion Day, for me, reflects an honest truth that needs to be expressed. It speaks of the power of protest. It speaks of a history that has never been reconciled, of justice denied. It reminds how one simple word, ‘invasion’, seems to bewilderingly upset those connected to the invaders more than those who descend from the invaded. It comes largely from the 1988 protests which also brought the slogan “White Australia Has A Black History” to our national consciousness. At the same time, there is a part of me that felt it gives too much energy away and not enough to ourselves. I often think about whether or not we spend too much responding to the moves of others rather than making our own, but at the same time the power of the above slogan always resonates with me and speaks to a battle that is still underway about how we relate to Australian history. I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

 White Australia Has A Black History

Survival.

It speaks to me of celebration and commemoration. It speaks of amazing resilience and resistance of cultures, communities, families and individuals. At the same time, it feels too comforting for white Australia. It does not feel ‘in their face’ enough. Perhaps this is more to do with how the name has been coopted than what it was originally intended for, I don’t know, but it has never quite sat right with me. So many lives have been needlessly lost in our history, and every day; those who didn’t survive. I am not comfortable about a day that can so easily be misrepresented to gloss over this tragic reality. Still, I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

Mourning.

It speaks to commemorating and acknowledging all we have to mourn since invasion took place. Not just the loss of life, but for all of the loss of culture, loss of land, loss of language. It is one of the oldest names we have for this day, and the significance of the 1938 protests should always be remembered and commemorated. Like the other two days though I have at times felt this lacked the fire of Invasion Day, and the positive outlook of Survival Day. But I know the power and the importance of grieving for people and things lost, and I believe we still need to speak these words, and we still need people to attend these events.

 Aborigines day of mourning, Sydney, 26 January 1938

Aborigines day of mourning, Sydney, 26 January 1938 (State Library of NSW)

It is only in recent years that I have stopped the internal debate each year about which camp I should sit in and come to realise that all three days are important, all three are still needed for different people at different times in their life. All three come are essential pieces of the whole that are needed to fully recognise the significance of this date.

There are times we need to protest. Other times we need to breathe, and to celebrate that we are still here despite the obstacles we have overcome and those we still face. And at other times we just need to mourn, and to heal.

Like many debates in our communities this is one where I believe we do not need to debate but instead we need to support each other regardless of the camp we need to sit in, and respect the reasons why we need to be there. We should be able to freely move between each and let others do the same.

There are times we need to protest. Other times we need to breathe, and to celebrate that we are still here despite the obstacles we have overcome and those we still face. And at other times we just need to mourn, and to heal. I know many people who plan to attend an Invasion Day march in the morning, attend a Survival Day concert in the morning, and then spend a reflective evening commemorating the Day of Mourning.

I have at times heard people opposed to changing the date of Australia Day argue that doing so would be to ignore or try to erase the history of this date. I disagree. January the 26th will always be an important date in our national calendar. It will always be Invasion Day. It will always be Survival Day. It will always be a Day of Mourning. We will never forget what this day represents. The only name I think the 26th of January should not have is ‘Australia Day’. It is not a day that was ever intended for Aboriginal people to celebrate. Even as far back as 1888, when Henry Parkes was the Premier of NSW and was preparing to celebrate the 100 year anniversary, he was asked if he was planning anything for Aboriginal people on this day, to which he replied, “And remind them that we have robbed them?”.

Australia Day, for me, is a day that was only ever intended to be a day for white Australians to come together to celebrate white Australia, and the recent attempts to make it a more inclusive day just feel like an effort to make it a day where all Australians regardless of their race, colour, or religion can come together to celebrate white Australia.

I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of an Australia Day that would allow us all to celebrate together, on the condition that we eventually learn to see the difference between inclusion and assimilation, but I am not entirely sure if there is a date in Australian history that could adequately encapsulate that ideal. That, to me, is the most interesting element about the whole ‘change the date’ conversation. Not the push to see that date changed, but the conversation about what day, if any, best encapsulates the Australia the Australia that we would like to imagine ourselves as.

Is our national identity best commemorated on the day that NSW became a British colony, or the date that Australians stopped being British subjects? Is it the day that the White Australia Policy was enacted, or is it the day it was repealed? Is it perhaps the day, if it ever comes, that we become a republic? Or is it some future day that we can’t even imagine at the moment, some future event that could serve to help ‘bring us together to celebrate all that is great about being Australians’?

But whether the date of Australia Day ever changes or not, the 26th of January will always be an important day. It will always be Invasion Day. It will always be Survival Day. It will always be a Day of Mourning.

So whatever you call it, whatever events you choose to go to or whether you just do your own thing, we do not need to debate what we should call this day so long as we can agree on one simple thing – Australia always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.

#AlwaysWillBe

Article 2 : Australia Day should be a source of unity, pride and celebration that reflects the identities, histories and cultures of all Australians.

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Justin Mohamed, CEO of Reconciliation Australia said today at a breakfast honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia Day finalists,

“We must find a day on which we can all participate equally, and can celebrate with pride our common Australian identity. I believe that it is critical to reconciliation for all Australians to acknowledge and understand different views around the date of Australia Day. And to ask the critical question: can our national day be truly inclusive if it is celebrated on a day that represents the beginning of physical and cultural dispossession for First Australians?”

Reconciliation Australia  hosted a celebratory breakfast for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian of the Year Awards finalists, and finalists who work with Indigenous communities.
The work of the finalists champions #reconciliation and brings Australia closer to becoming a just, equitable and reconciled nation.

Finalists Andrew Forrest, Arthur Alla, Andrea Mason, Tejinder pal Singh, Sister Anne Gardiner AM and Lois Peeler AM, Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Professor Tom Calma AO, finalists June Oscar AO and Patricia Buckskin PSM, and Reconciliation Australia CEO Justin Mohamed

Article 3 Editorial the Guardian Australia agrees.

This is not a date that unifies Australians.

In fact it’s hard to think of a worse date for a party that is supposed to include us all.

The National Australia Day Council itself acknowledges the problem.

“We recognise that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and some non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians may have mixed feelings about celebrating this day. January 26 has multiple meanings: it is Australia Day and it is also, for some, Survival Day or Invasion Day. The NADC acknowledges that the date brings a mixture of celebration and mourning and we believe that the programs presented by the NADC should play a powerful and positive role in advancing reconciliation.”

The national strategy that followed the initial decade-long process to achieve reconciliation recommended the date be changed.

“Governments, organisations and communities negotiate to establish and promote symbols of reconciliation,” it said. “This would include changing the date of Australia Day to a date that includes all Australians.”

But, despite the obvious historical arguments and the growing acknowledgement the date is a problem, there is still deep resistance to the idea that 26 January is inappropriate.

Fremantle council tried to hold this year’s main citizenship ceremony at a more inclusive 28 January event, but eventually bowed to pressure from the federal government. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, insisted Australia would be “sticking with” 26 January.

Back in 2009 the then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s reply to Mick Dodson’s suggestion was even more brusque. “To our Indigenous leaders, and those who call for a change to our national day, let me say a simple, respectful, but straightforward no,” he said.

Some – like the Indigenous leader Noel Pearson – have suggested changing our understanding of exactly what we are celebrating on 26 January.

He sees three defining moments in Australia’s history: “Firstly, 53,000-plus years ago, when the first Australians crossed the Torres Strait land bridge to this continent; secondly, the landing of the first fleet in 1788; thirdly, the abolition of the White Australia policy between 1973 and 1975.”

“I believe the celebration of Australia Day will always be equivocal as long as it is about only one of these three parts,” he said at the National Press Club last year. “If we brought these three parts of the nation together and the day defining Australia spoke to these three parts then less offence and hurt would attach to 26 January. It can’t just be about what was destroyed. It must also be about what we have built.”

When he became Australian of the Year in 2014, the footballer Adam Goodes also suggested broadening what Australia Day is about. “There was a lot of anger, a lot of sorrow, for this day and very much the feeling of Invasion Day,” he said.

“But in the last five years, I’ve really changed my perception of what is Australia Day, of what it is to be Australian and for me, it’s about celebrating the positives, that we are still here as Indigenous people, our culture is one of the longest surviving cultures in the world, over 40,000 years.

“That is something we need to celebrate and all Australians need to celebrate … It’s a day we celebrate over 225 years of European settlement and right now, that’s who we are as a nation but we also need to acknowledge our fantastic Aboriginal history of over 40,000 years and just know that some Aboriginal people out there today are feeling a little bit angry, a little bit soft in the heart today because of that, and that’s OK as well.”

Even these measured comments prompted wild attacks by conservative commentators and were later cited as one of the reasons fans from opposing teams booed Goodes the following year.

But for many Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, the only viable solution remains to #changethedate and public discussion of a new date is growing. The national youth broadcaster, Triple J, declined to shift its much-loved Hottest 100 this year, but given the public pressure the ABC says the date remains “under review”. Indigenous musicians A.B. Original and Dan Sultan released a track advocating for a date change last year, and this week a collection of hip hop artists released another.

The Saturday Paper has argued that boycotting Australia Day celebrations is the best way to try to force a shift.

Guardian Australia also argues for change but we will be covering 26 January.

We’ll reflect the deep concerns about the date in our live blog – which will cover the Invasion Day marches and Indigenous cultural celebrations such as Sydney’s Yabun festival and also the events on 26 January that reflect the best of us, the wonderful citizenship ceremonies around the country, as well as concerts and the Hottest 100.

There are many reasons for Australians to feel proud. We agree 26 January is the wrong day for national festivities, but we think respectful debate – about changing the date or the meaning of the celebration – is the best way to a solution that will allow all Australians to join the party.

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NACCHO Aboriginal health and January 26 debate: What does Australia Day mean for our mob ?

January 26

A day off, a barbecue and fireworks? A celebration of who we are as a nation? A day of mourning and invasion? A celebration of survival?

Australians hold many different views on what 26 January means to them.

We welcome your comments in the online forum below

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it isn’t a day for celebration. Instead, 26 January represents a day on which their way of life was invaded and changed forever.

For others, it is Survival Day, and a celebration of the survival of people and culture, and the continuous contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to Australia.

On the eve of 26 January 2014, and in the spirit of reconciliation, we would like to recognise these differences and ask you to reflect on how we can create a day all Australians can celebrate.

On this day in…

From around 40,000 BC the continuing culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples flourishes across the country.

1788 The First Fleet lands on Australian shores, and Captain Phillip raises the Union Jack as a symbol of British occupation.

1818 26 January is first recognised as a public holiday in NSW to mark the 30th anniversary of British settlement.

1938 Re-enactments of the First Fleet landing are held in Sydney, including the removal of a group of Aboriginal people. This practice of re-enactment continued until 1988, when the NSW government demanded it stop.

1938 Aboriginal activists hold a ‘Day of Mourning’ aimed at securing national citizenship and equal status for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

1968 Lionel Rose becomes the first Aboriginal Australian to be named Australian of the Year. At the time he noted, “One hundred and eighty-two years ago one of my mob would have been a dead cert for this.”

1972 The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is established on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra, in reaction to Prime Minister William McMahon’s Aboriginal policy.

1988 The Aboriginal community stage a massive march for Freedom, Justice and Hope in Sydney, followed by the Bondi pavilion concert that preceded the Survival Day Concerts. 1988 was named a “Year of Mourning” for Aboriginal people, and also regarded as a celebration of survival.

1992 The first Survival Day concert is held in Sydney.

2000 Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, a member of the Yunkunytjatjara peoples of Central Australia, delivers the annual Australia Day address and calls for a conversation on changing the date of Australia Day.

2014 Townsville Council will for the first time officially celebrate both Survival Day (on 24 January) and Australia Day (on 26 January).

Some quick statistics

15,000 Australians attended the Freedom, Justice and Hope march in 1988 to celebrate the survival of Aboriginal people and culture.

Around 16,000 people attend the Yabun festival—the single largest Indigenous festival in Australia, and one of the most important music events in the country—in Sydney to mark 26 January each year.

8 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been awarded Australian of the Year since the award began in 1960.

In 2014, there are 14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander state and territory finalists for the Australian of the Year Awards.

Meet…the Saltwater Freshwater Festival

Each year on 26 January the Saltwater Freshwater Festival showcases the living Aboriginal culture of NSW’s mid-North Coast and extends an invitation for everyone to come together on Australia Day to celebrate Aboriginal culture. It is one example of many events around the country bringing people together in the spirit of reconciliation on Australia Day.

Read more about the Saltwater Freshwater Festival here.

Watch…

Watch Mick Dodson accepting his 2009 Australian of the Year award, espousing his hope for all Australians to work for reconciliation

What they said

“For me, the most important first step to reconciliation is dialogue. For me, this means participating in mainstream national events and ensuring that the Indigenous voice is heard…I would however make a strong plea for a change of date. Let us find a day on which we can all feel included, in which we can all participate equally, and can celebrate with pride our common Australian identity.”
Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, Australian of the Year 1984

“The great majority of Indigenous people want to live in one Australia; want to share in its destiny; want to participate in and contribute to its progress; but at the same time, want the recognition and respect that their status and millennia-old civilisation so clearly warrant.”
Sir Gustav Nossal, Australian of the Year 2000

“It is one thing to acknowledge the fact of invasion; it is quite another to celebrate it.”
Michael Mansell, Lawyer and Indigenous rights activist, upon refusing his Senior Australian of the Year 2014 nomination

“For [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders], it must be a day of disaster.”
Manning Clark, Australian historian

Take action…

Attend or volunteer at the Saltwater Freshwater Festival at Kempsey on the mid-North Coast of NSW.

Change your view on Australia Day by seeing an event different to the traditional barbeque or fireworks, such as attending the Yabun Festival in Sydney, or a Survival Day concert in Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth.

Read Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue’s Australia Day address in 2000, discussing how it is possible to both celebrate being Australian, while acknowledging and seeking to address the wrongs done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the past.

Check out the nominations for the 2014 Australian of the Year, or nominate someone for the 2015 Australian of the Year Awards.

Register your support for reconciliation in Australia and sign up to support the Recognise campaign.

Reconciliation Australia would like to thank the National Australia Day Council, the Saltwater Freshwater Alliance and Gadigal Information Service for their assistance in developing this factsheet.