Jobs Events Advertise

January 26: Honest debate important on a day of mixed emotion

Alira Kelly and Melissa Perry -

While Australians hold many different views about January 26, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it represents the beginning of an unlawful invasion; one which continues to impact First Nations communities.

There is no doubt we're living through a very challenging time in regards to reconciliation and recognition of the first Australians, the world's oldest continuing culture, stretching back 65,000 years.

Despite these challenges, we believe the discussions around the Voice and ongoing debate about changing the date of Australia Day, have galvanised the resolve of those of us deeply committed to continuing the reconciliation journey.

We are coming from a place of inclusiveness and equality; driven by positivity and hope, not despair and hopelessness. We will remain brave and steadfast in our advocacy for the custodians of this land we have the privilege of calling home.

At Communicare, we have introduced a new Public Holiday Substitution Policy, which allows employees to request approval to work on Australia Day (or another public holiday) and take a different day off at a later time.

It's important to allow our people to have the option of choosing what days they wish to celebrate, particularly on a day of such mixed emotion.

Reconciliation WA has developed an introduction to the Day of Mourning for individuals, organisations, and community members, to help people better understand why 'Australia Day' is difficult for many First Nations people. It provides guidance on spreading the message and actions we can all take to make our national day inclusive for all Australians.

Many Australians are unaware that 26 January was not the original date of Australia Day; that date was only celebrated in NSW up until 1935 to mark Captain Arthur Phillip raising the Union Jack flag at Sydney Cove in 1788 to acknowledge the land was now occupied as a British colony.

The first Australia Day was celebrated on 30 July 1915, and then moved to 28 July in 1916. It changed again to 26 January in 1935, but that date only became a national public holiday in 1994.

Colonisation in Australia devastated Aboriginal life and culture – families were torn apart, language and ceremony was forbidden, and foreign disease decimated communities. Traditional and sustainable agriculture was destroyed and Aboriginality in every sense was criminalised.

Cycles of disadvantage seen today in First Nations communities can be traced to events that happened during colonisation, such is the extreme impact of trauma and dispossession. So, Australia Day for many Aboriginal people can represent a time to mourn the ravages of colonisation on their culture, lives and families.

As 26 January approaches, I encourage you all to reflect on the pain caused to Aboriginal people across the country and how celebrating on this date might be seen as offensive and culturally inappropriate.

Questioning the inclusiveness, or the date of Australia Day doesn't diminish our love or connection to this country.

Today, and on 26 January, we acknowledge and pay respect to the Aboriginal communities on whose lands and waterways we live and work, including Elders past and present, our Aboriginal colleagues, friends, and clients.

We will hear their voices, we will listen and we will act.

Alira Kelly - Director Aboriginal Strategy and Capacity Building

Melissa Perry - Chief Executive Officer

   Related   

Indigenous Procurement Policy review could have profound impact
Within days the public comment period of one of the most significant government policies will come to a close – and what comes n...
Zak Kirkup 28 Feb 2024
Opposition to Truth and Justice commission is founded on a lie
As the recently retired Senator Pat Dodson bows out with his integrity intact, Former Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken W...
Jesse J. Fleay 15 Feb 2024
There's nothing new - or sinister - about anti-colonial solidarity
The struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia has historically been fought through an understanding of intersectional liberati...
Ethan Lyons 14 Feb 2024
What if Barnaby had been Black?
The former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia was filmed lying flat on his back, muttering obscenities into his phone in Braddon...
Reece Harley 12 Feb 2024

   Alira Kelly and Melissa Perry   

Canada's largest private sector union condemns arrest of First Nations journalist, warns of threat to democracy
Canada's largest private sector union has slammed the arrest and charging of an Indigenous journalist as a threat to "Canadian n...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024
Mystery around locations of native forestry plan
The location of native forest parcels slated to be logged in Tasmania under a Liberal government election pledge may not be made...
Ethan James 1 Mar 2024
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation strikes deal for "equal footing in future decision-making" over Murujuga country
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation has "defined a new approach" to agreement-making in Australia, following the signing Thursday of...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024
Funding boost expands Junior Ranger program to 50 new sites
The Federal government announced on Thursday that it is expanding the Junior Ranger program, offering on-Country learning to Abo...
Giovanni Torre 29 Feb 2024