Chibo Mertineit, Lillian Rock
Once again it’s that time of the year where we are meant to celebrate Australia day on 26 January. The day Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay, and the deaths and trauma started for the Indigenous people of this continent, where they had lived for over 60 000 years. Cook declared this land as terra nullius (Latin for ‘land belonging to no one’), because the Aborigines were classified under flora and fauna.
In 1808 NSW celebrated on 26 January ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’. The first ever official national Australia Day was on the 30 July, 1915 to raise funds for the first World War. I can see the logic of this day to bring all the different migrants together under the Australian banner, but please not on the day when someone stole the land, and killed and enslaved the original owners of this continent. It’s 2021 and we still have not understood what this date means for Aboriginal Australia?
Just a few facts: In October 1987 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody started, it finished in 1991 with over 330 recommendations. I wonder why only a few of them have been implemented, when most of them are still relevant today?
Between 1991 and June 2020 there were at least 437 Indigenous deaths in custody. Don’t ask how many humans went to court for the deaths!
From the late 1800s until 1970 Aboriginal workers were, for all intents and purposes, enslaved. Mr Morrison, learn the history of the country you are selling, oops, being the prime minister of!
‘They were denied access to their wages which in many cases were simply stolen by corrupt officials and employers. This locked them into a cycle of poverty. Governments and churches have made it difficult to access records and there is a general reluctance to pay the monies withheld’ (www.creativespirits.info).
Come on Australians, we can do a lot better, let’s show some respect and change the date. I will celebrate the survival of the oldest human culture on the planet on this day.