Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.Aldous Huxley
Have you noticed? The world is changing. That change is messy, but it’s necessary. It’s time to stand and face the inequalities and injustices on which our current society has been built. The #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQI+ and gender inclusiveness, recognition of neurodiversity, climate crisis, living wages, to name a few – so many issues that need and deserve our attention are coming to light now.
Which is why I can no longer celebrate Australia Day on January 26. Today’s date is the anniversary of the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson in New South Wales, and the raising of the British Flag on Australian soil. This act assumed terra nullius – a Latin term meaning ‘land belonging to no-one’ – and this land was claimed for the British Empire.
But the land was not empty.
Australia Day negates the fact that the oldest living culture, the First Nations peoples, had co-existed here in this country for over 65 000 years before colonisation.
The arrival of the First Fleet led to devastation for First Nations people. They were massacred, decimated by disease, dispossessed of their lands, their families torn apart, made powerless within their own country. Many of them refer to today as Invasion Day.
How can I celebrate that?
How can I stand by my Aboriginal Aunties, my First Nations friends, and look them in the eye, while I celebrate our country’s nationhood on a day that stole so much from them, and that created wrongs which have created enduring suffering and trauma?
For me the Australia Day issue can’t be fixed by merely changing the date. It’s about creating a country where there is true equal opportunity, where First Nations people have a voice, where their sovereignty is restored, where healing is possible, where this land truly is a better and fairer one for everyone.
I’d celebrate that.