‘Australia Day’ has been and gone, however we should remember that the day is not a celebration for all people.
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia day comes with mixed feelings of sadness, grief, loss and also feelings of pride and resilience, because the day marks the invasion of land occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by British colonizers. This is why the day has been given alternative names, such as “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day”, and why there has been a growing push from the Australian public to have the date for celebrating Australia moved to another, more inclusive date.
Nakkiah Lui, a Gamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander actor and playwright, wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian explaining why she refused to celebrate the day but instead viewed it as a day of mourning. “We mourn the declaration of Australia as terra nullius (land that belongs to no one) as well as those who have died in massacres, those who were dispossessed of their land and homes, those who were denied their humanity, those who were shackled, beaten, sent to prison camps, and made to live in reserves.”(What’s in a name?)
At Bonnie’s, we are aware that an Aboriginal woman is 35 times, yes THIRTY-FIVE times, more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence, compared to non-Aboriginal women. If she lives in a rural or remote area, she is FORTY-FIVE times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman in the same area.
We understand the connection between these exorbitantly high rates of brutal violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children and the impacts of colonization. We understand that just like toxic masculinity, which is premised on notions of male superiority over women, racism will have you believe that one group of people and/or their culture is superior to another. We don’t accept toxic masculinity or racism at Bonnie’s: we work with a vision of equality and respect between all humans.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures have survived. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are thriving. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are fighting back and refusing to be treated with disrespect. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are also challenging gender norms and healing. At Bonnie’s we wholeheartedly commend and support resistance to racism and misogyny, whilst actively doing our part to challenge the systemic factors that feed racial and gender oppression.
This Survival Day we acknowledged the SURVIVAL of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures alongside our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.
You can join with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters to honour resilience and to ensure that our nation’s history is not “white-washed”. National Indigenous Television has a variety of great programs screening and for more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, Creative Spirits have many online resources to look through.
Whatever you chose to do on the 26th of January, I hope it was a relaxed, safe, respectful and inclusive of ALL Australians.
Written by Catherine