IT'S BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR ARNA ON JANUARY 26, INVASION DAY
It’s important that we do celebrate Australia for all its glory, for the richness of country for the amazing people, for the food, the thriving business, the oceans and beauty of nature, let's just celebrate it on another day.
What happened on January 26th and why is it currently 'Australia Day'?
It’s also important that we recognise the current day of ‘celebration’ as the day that marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip, laying claim to the land without negotiations at all.
Later, on January 26th 1838, a group of mounted police under the instruction of the colonial government led a surprise attack on a camp of Kamilaroi people at Waterloo Creek in northern New South Wales, killing at least 40. One of the many massacres Aboriginal people would face over years.
It was the 50th anniversary of the planting of the Union Jack in Sydney Cove. As the massacre took place, a celebratory regatta was held in Sydney, just 480km away, to mark the colony’s jubilee.
It’s been a measly 232 years since Australia was colonised and found by Governor Arthur Phillip, who at the time was bringing in 160,000 convicts from Britain. (Ironically, now Australia has disgusting immigration laws letting very few refugees into the country and not allowing any person coming by boat, into the country. But, rather keeping them in detention camps in Manus Island or Nauru. All the white people that now live here that were part of the group of original colonisers and convicts, came by boat… ummmmmmm?)
Not only that, the 232 years is absolutely NOTHING compared to the 80,000 years the Aboriginal people have lived on this country.
Australian land and country was never ceded by Aboriginal people. There has never been so little as a treaty. There has been none or very little reparations paid or land given back. What has occurred since the British colonised has been absolutely devastating; the stolen generation, the laws that meant Aboriginal people were seen as ‘flora and fauna’ up until the 1990s, the reduction of government funding to so many remote Aboriginal communities, the countless massacres, the forcible treatment of Aboriginal people to adopt white customs and ways of life, the absolute burning of their country and land due to colonisation and the impacts on climate change, the fracking and mining of land without permission, the stealing of land and the list goes on and on and on. It’s not good enough to not educate ourselves on the history that has taken so much from our First Nations people.
January 26th is a day of invasion and often a day of mourning for many people. Why would we continue to ‘celebrate’ this? Don’t we have enough respect for each other as human beings to choose another day? To consider the impacts of these murders of Aboriginal people and the colonisation of their lands that was never agreed upon.
What will ARNA be doing instead?
At ARNA, we will be working on January 26th and January 27th, business as usual. We will be sharing some inspiring stories about Aboriginal women instead of the very white Australiana that often gets thrown around like the Union Jack flag wrapped around a kangaroos neck as a cape...
We ask you to instead of celebrate Australia on January 26th/27th this year, choose a different day. Instead of celebrate, learn an Aboriginal word, learn a custom, learn a story, listen to some amazing Aboriginal music, connect with an Aboriginal person, learn something about the country you live on, donate to an Aboriginal charity...
We are so grateful to have all the opportunities of living and working in Australia as a Kiwi's. We are deeply grateful to all of the amazing Aboriginal women who have so openly shared their stories with us, and to have had the opportunity to learn and listen from so much wisdom. We love living here on this country, of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Thank you for having us on your land, South African, Kiwi migrants who acknowledge your suffering and that your land was never ceded.
Let’s simply pick another day, any day to celebrate Australia! Just not this one.
Here are some resources and things you can learn about on January 26th this year:
- The theme for NAIDOC week in 2020, is 'Always was, always will be.'
- Learn more about the work that The Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy is doing for young people.
- Learn about amazing Aboriginal women's stories from Tiddas4Tiddas.
- Follow artist Coffinbirth on Instagram to see her incredible art and storytelling
- Follow Seed Mob, the young Aboriginal Climate Justice movement
- Here's a list of 27 words that you can learn in Aboriginal languages