By Kimberley Peckham
Invasion: 26 January 1788. The arrival of the First Fleet to our shores at Sydney Cove.
A day of mourning and great loss for Indigenous peoples all around Australia. A day marking the point where the lives of our ancestors and our culture would be changed forever.
This day symbolises the start of a continuous battle: a battle for equality, a battle for rights, a battle against the deprivation and degradation of our people. This day marks the point in time where it became acceptable to mistreat, massacre, ostracise and degrade our people for simply being original owners of this land.
And yet this is the day that modern Australia celebrates.
Barbeques. Australian flags. triple j. Beers. Beaches.
Some argue that “it’s time to move on” – this claim is all too familiar to us; we hear these ignorant comments on a daily basis. Yes, it did occur in the past, yet our people are still affected by the arrival of the First Fleet every day.
We are still largely over represented in the criminal justice system, we are still dying at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous peoples, and we are still facing discrimination within the workplace, education system and public sphere.
Yet despite these statistics, non-Indigenous Australians become quickly indignant when we say that 26 January is an insensitive and inappropriate date to celebrate what is good about this country.
Survival Day, for me, signifies a day for our people to continue our ongoing battle, a battle our ancestors first fought back in 1788. It is a day which highlights the truly systemic racism Indigenous peoples continue to face. It is a day that reinforces that Australia is not a country of unity or togetherness, but a day that perpetuates division.
All it takes is a quick scroll through your newsfeed to see how this day feeds ignorance and racist opinions. Why would we want this?
As an Indigenous woman in Australia, I am not opposed to celebrating what is great about this country. But I am opposed to celebrating it on the day that triggered a genocide against my ancestors, on the day where my people’s blood was shed upon my people’s land.
So while others celebrate what is known as ‘Australia Day’, I will be reflecting upon how far Indigenous Australians have come, despite all the barriers that have been placed, and continue to be placed, between our people and success.
I will stand proud and strong with my people to continue to fight for a date change, to fight for a day that all people can celebrate. Including my people. Including our people.