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August 3, 2021

Fellow Second Peoples, the work of justice and reconciliation is ours

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Philippa Clark

When the good folks at Echonetdaily asked me to write something for January 26 I initially said no. Who needs another white person’s opinion on Australia Day/Invasion Day?

But I have been rightly reminded that it’s not just up to Indigenous people to bear the load of communicating the truth of our history and seeking justice around this day.

I have nothing to add to the deeply thought-provoking story of Eli Cook and his ancestors in this week’s Storylines. I do, however, want you to read it. To sit with it. To let it make you uncomfortable. And instead of letting that discomfort fade in your memory from January 27 onwards, I want you to do something about it.

What will you do to promote justice?

What is one thing you will do differently this year to promote justice and healing for First Peoples? Will you donate to support the families of those killed in custody, like David Dungay Jr?

Will you better inform yourself with a book like Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, which presents an astounding timeline of Indigenous culture, land management and enterprise that you were never taught in school?

Will you have an awkward but necessary conversation with your family or work colleagues about why you didn’t celebrate on January 26?

This year, I’ve committed to buying more birthday and Christmas gifts from Indigenous-run businesses.

White Australia’s black history

I encourage you to not only reflect on white Australia’s black history but act on it. Occasionally, I hear the argument that: ‘Colonisation and the stolen generations were awful, but I wasn’t alive then/I migrated here. Why is it on me to make amends?’

It is better to think in terms of responsibility, rather than fault. We Second Peoples have an advantage – in life expectancy, in education and healthcare outcomes, in our interactions with the police. That advantage exists because of the actions of those who came before in oppressing and discriminating against First Peoples.

We might not be to blame, but each of us has the power and responsibility to recognise the inequality and work to reverse it, by whatever means we have, whether large or small.

Without actively doing our bit to usher in justice for this land’s First Peoples, there can be no reconciliation and healing. We would be better off saving our empty words.

Philippa Clark.



Philippa Clark is an Echo Publications intern who grew up on Bidjigal land and now lives on Wangal land.

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  1. Even though we did not participate in the particular violence of the past before our time, we are privilege by it, and hence bear responsibility to repair. But even more, we actually still do participate in it by allowing aborigines to continue to be victimized in our interest. Also we do continue the colonization. For example since 1992 when 190 countries signed commitments to act to prevent dangerous climate change, Australians have emitted more climate changing CO2 per capita than any other substantial country, and exceedingly so when we include, as we should, the fossil fuel extracted and exported to help keep other nations addicted to it. This is colonization of the atmosphere, against the wishes of billions of other people such as the Pacific Islanders, who will thus lose their homes and succumb to famines and wars. How is it different than the original colonization that stole the land from the original people?

  2. Love this article on justice for first nation peoples and we, second nation people helping to implement right justice, not unfair or white only justice. My children (jarjum) are first nation heritage and they are proud bundjalung people, and I, as their mother am extremely proud of them. Anne-Marie Betar, Banora Point, NSW

  3. Hi Phillips I have read ( on FB) and we know that we can’t believe everything on FB that there were people occupying this land before those you call the First People. Just wondering if this is true or not.


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