For many, January 26, the day that the British officially colonised what became the State of New South Wales, represents the beginning of the oppression of Indigenous peoples and their culture. The pain and suffering caused by colonisation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been, and continues to be, significant and traumatising. The call to no longer use January 26 to celebrate Australia Day, is a plea for acknowledgement by Australia that colonisation has been disastrous for its First Nations people. It is a cry for acceptance of the hurt and human suffering they have endured. It is an appeal to taking another step towards reducing their ongoing sense of alienation.
Australia Day was first celebrated on July 30, 1915 to help raise funds for the First World War military effort. It is possible to have Australia Day on another date. For very many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people January 26 has become a National Day of Mourning. If celebrating Australia Day on a date that is less distressing to Aboriginal people has the potential to bring us closer to genuine, respectful reconciliation, then let’s do so; we have all to gain and little to lose.
The National Day of Mourning, presentation below was created by Centrecare staff members Julie Stone and Tahnee Nesbitt and Wungening staff member Tahneqa Dann.