#ChangetheDate | Australian Greens

#ChangetheDate

As Australians, we all want a day on which we can come together as a national community, to reflect on where we’re at and to celebrate what we are: a wonderfully diverse, open and free society.

But January 26 is not that day.

By Rachel Siewert and Lidia Thorpe
Friday, January 19, 2018

On January 26, 1788 the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson, and Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack on the land of the Eora nation. This was an invasion that had catastrophic and tragic consequences for all the peoples and nations who had lived here for tens of thousands of years, and for their descendants. It sparked over 200 years of dispossession and oppression for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

January 26 is a potent reminder of that history and our efforts to airbrush it. To continue to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 is to ignore that dispossession.

That is why The Greens will continue to push for a national conversation around an appropriate and inclusive alternative date, and over the coming year will be looking for ways that we can work with local councils and local communities around the country who want to start a conversation about changing the date.

Here’s what our new MP for Northcote in Victoria, Lidia Thorpe, has to say about the campaign:

Like many Aboriginal people, I wake up every year on January 26 with a churning in the pit of my stomach.

While much of the country parties, it is a day of mourning and deep pain for Australia’s First Nations people.

In my home in Preston South, I keep an old black and white photo of my mother’s family, taken many decades ago. They lived their lives as refugees in their own country, on Gunnai land in Gippsland.

They were poisoned, shot and herded off cliffs in one of the most ruthless and systematic attempted genocides the world has ever seen.

The survivors, including my mother’s family, were rounded up onto Lake Tyers Mission and imprisoned on rations.

Successive state governments restricted our movement, took our children away and marginalised our communities.

Every Australia Day, I am reminded that this was a process that began on January 26.

We can no longer ignore that suffering.

I'm so moved to see people from all walks of life start to recognise that this is a day of great sorrow.

But it is not a sudden shift. This year marks the 80th anniversary of respected Aboriginal activist William Cooper calling for a day of mourning.

I am a proud Australian and I believe we should celebrate the diversity and community spirit that makes us a great nation.

But our First Nations people are hurting. We must find a way to walk forward together in hope and healing.

Find out more and be part of the campaign - greens.org.au/change-the-date