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NSW Aboriginal Land Council warns of January 26 backlash

Giovanni Torre -

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has denounced the divisive debate around celebrating Australia Day on January 26, a day which "represents the invasion and dispossession of Aboriginal lands, and the beginning of colonisation".

NSWALC chief executive Yuseph Deen said the Council knows that "a growing number of Australians are also uncomfortable with celebrating Australia Day on January 26 and want a different day celebrated to reflect our inclusive society".

He called on mob to stay strong and stay safe in the lead-up to Survival Day this year.

"What's concerning is that it's basically becoming the Voice 2.0 now when it comes to dealing with racism and hatred leading up to Survival Day,'' Mr Deen said.

"We've seen the negative reaction to the First Nations focus of the NYE 9pm fireworks. What's supposed to be a celebration has instead been met with negative comments.

"We're calling on allies, businesses and supporters to step up and support mob. We are strong, we are resilient, but we can't do this all by ourselves. We are sick of the hatred and division.''

NSWALC said that it is the legitimacy of the non-Indigenous occupation in this country that requires discussion, not the other way around; "Our sovereignty has never been ceded".

Mr Deen also referenced Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) and the need for businesses to ensure these did not become tokenistic.

"RAPs shouldn't just get dusted off during reporting season. RAPs should be integrated strategies in pursuit of business objectives, not something bolted onto the BAU as a feel good gesture," he said.

"They should be used for meaningful engagement and to drive positive change. The weight shouldn't be on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to do all the heavy lifting.''

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