Local First Nations organisations have welcomed the support of Inner West Councillors to #ChangeTheDate from 2019.
Greens Councillor Tom Kiat is leading the charge by bringing a motion to the first council meeting of 2018 to commit Council to not celebrate Australia Day on Jan 26, 2019, and to seek advice from local First Nations residents on a more respectful and unifying way to celebrate modern multicultural Australia and its First Nations.
January 26 marks 230 years of dispossession and stolen land and there is already broad agreement from the council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory committee that it’s inappropriate to celebrate this day.
Tom Kiat, Councillor on Inner West Council
“For a long time, First Nations’ people across Australia have identified that January 26 is a day of invasion, of mourning, and of survival, representing the loss of land, culture, language.”
“In 2018, many in our community believe we can find a better way to commemorate January 26, and a better date to celebrate modern, multicultural Australia. Councils in Tasmania and Victoria have already done it, so can we.
“It’s fitting that our Council, on Gadigal and Wangal land, be the first in NSW to commit to this change, as it was on Gadigal land that the British Penal Colony was first established.”
“In terms of justice and respect for First Nations people, we have a long way to go. This is a step in the right direction.” Tom Kiat said.
Nathan Moran, CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC)
“MLALC is the Aboriginal authority for the area on which the British Penal Colony was established on 26 January 1788, being Gadigal Country.”
“The arrival of the First Fleet and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Phillip is a date of significance, but for MLALC it’s not a day for National celebration.”
“For MLALC & Aboriginal people generally January 26 represents the establishment of the British Penal Colony and commencement of War against First Nations Australians to dispossess them of their estates.”
“It was not until 1994 that Australia as a whole began to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on January 26.”
“We will always refer to January 26 as “Day of Mourning”, Invasion Day or Survival Day. Aboriginal people generally wish to seek an alternate date for a day of national celebration such as 1 January to commemorate establishment of Australian Constitution or the passing of the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) and the Australia Act 1986 (UK) on 2 March 1986.” Nathan Moran said.
Ken Canning (Burraga Gutya), representative of FIRE (Fighting in Resistance Equally, organisers of Sydney’s Invasion Day rally), and first Aboriginal graduate of UTS
“It must be noted that the January 26 is the anniversary of the Invasion of the Traditional peoples of this land.
“If we are ever going to walk together as a nation, the full and true history must be and should be told. What better way than to commence by recognising that for First Nations Peoples, January 26 is the beginning of the attempted genocide of over 500 different Tribal Nations in what is now called Australia.”
“To have people out celebrating in a nation-wide party is purely an insult to Our Peoples and continues to reinforce the inaccuracies of the history of this country.”
“FIRE has always maintained the position that rather than change the date of Australia, it would be a far more sensible and humane idea to be rid of these celebrations.” Ken Canning said.
David Shoebridge Greens NSW Spokesperson for Aboriginal Justice and Local Government:
“With state and federal governments too weak to take action, local councillors are listening to First Nations people and recognising that January 26 cannot be Australia’s national day.
“January 26 represents invasion, but it also represents 230 years of racist policies that continue to this day. Aboriginal people are the most imprisoned people in the world and Aboriginal kids are taken from their families at disgraceful rates.
“Changing the date is just the beginning, we need institutional change and we need treaty.” David Shoebridge said.