It’s time to change the nation, as well as changing how we celebrate that national identity.
By Senator Lidia Thorpe
In 1938, Yorta Yorta man William Cooper called for January 26 to be acknowledged as a Day of Mourning. First Nations people have rallied on that date ever since. This is a longer history than the Australia Day public holiday, which only started in 1994.
Through mourning, comes healing. To heal, we need to tell the truth about where we’re coming from, so we can map out where we’re going. Together.
First Nations people never ceded our Sovereignty. Before colonisation, there were over 500 Sovereign nations on these lands. Each with their own laws, languages, and customs. We benefit from the oldest knowledge, culture and community on earth.
British invasion was the beginning of genocide, police brutality, the stolen generation and desecration of sacred sites that continues to this day. We never sat down to negotiate what peaceful coexistence looks like.
The Greens are fighting for the establishment of a national Truth and Justice Commission, like we’ve seen in Victoria. This commission would investigate historic and ongoing injustices experienced by Aboriginal people since colonisation. This evidence would inform Treaty negotiations.
Treaty is a self-determined, grassroots agreement-making process between First Nations people and the Government about how we can live together as equals. It sets the terms for us to negotiate with the Government moving forward. That’s why Treaty is important, it sets the baseline. Only a Treaty will end the war against Aboriginal people in this country.
The Prime Minister has said that Labor’s Voice to Parliament will be subservient to the Parliament. Truth and Treaty can deliver real power for First Nations people in this country. It will acknowledge our Sovereignty and strengthen our Voice. This is why the policy we took to the last election was Truth. Treaty. Voice.
Labor has other plans, and is proceeding with a Voice to Parliament this year. The Greens Party Room have empowered Adam Bandt and I to negotiate with Labor for the best path forwards.
The violence that started with colonisation continues through deaths in custody, incarceration and child removal. That’s why implementing the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCADiC) and the Bringing them Home report is at the forefront of our negotiations.
Implementing these recommendations will save peoples lives, before any Referendum. Around 40% of the RCADiC’s recommendations are about social factors: things like housing, health, employment. Access to basic human rights will prevent First Nations people from going to prison in the first place.
Survivors of the stolen generation are now witnessing a new generation of our babies being stolen. First Nations children are over 10 times more likely to be taken from their families than non-Indigenous children. We have the solutions. All we need is a Government with the ambition to enact what our Elders advised them decades ago.
Other matters that we’ve brought to the table are progress on Truth and Treaty at the same time as Voice, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, raising the age of legal responsibility, making medicare available in prisons and ensuring that any interim actions by Government do not undermine future Treaty making and Sovereignty.
We’ve had some wins in these negotiations. We secured a funding commitment to national truth telling and treaty processes in the last budget. Funding Truth and Treaty is an investment in real power for First Nations people.
We also now have money behind real-time reporting of deaths in custody. Transparency is critical in our fight for justice, but this doesn’t go far enough. We want to stop First Nations people from going to prison in the first place.
We will keep pushing Labor to go further and faster for Blak justice, but we won’t stand in the way of progress. We know there’s broad community support for change – we could use this moment and momentum to make a tangible difference in the lives of First Nations people.
White Australia has a Blak future. We’re inviting everyone to join us on this healing journey. Get involved in your local community and observe this Day of Mourning. Get educated and show solidarity, not just on Invasion Day, but every day in the colony.
- Invasion Day Events
Follow the links below for the latest event info in your area.
- Jagera & Turrbal Land / Brisbane
- Kabi Kabi and Jinibara Country / Sunshine Coast
- Bindal and Wulgurukaba Country / Townsville
- Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair Land / Toowoomba
- Ngunnawal Country / Canberra – TBC
- Victorian NAIDOC Invasion Day Dawn Service – Link via: Our Survival Day
- Check Sovereign Union's Facebook post for other events
- Join the movement
It’s time for Treaty, to right the wrongs of this nation’s past and move forward together.
- Learn more about Treaty
Hear from Senator Lidia Thorpe and First Nations activists and academics as they yarn about truth telling and Treaty.