I was a teenager when the Mabo and Wik decisions were handed down in the 1990s. There was a growing movement aimed at achieving land rights and reconciliation for Aboriginal Australians. There was finally recognition that the land, now known as Australia, was already inhabited when the first fleet arrived and claimed it for the British Commonwealth.
I know I am in no way responsible for what occurred in 1788, or the generations of trauma, discrimination and disadvantage that followed. But I also know I want to be a part of trying to heal the wounds and finding a more equitable and united way forward.
I always felt uneasy on Australia Day. It was a day I felt signified the beginning of intergenerational trauma and dispossession of one of the oldest cultures on earth. Was it really appropriate to have a party?
To me it was a bit like celebrating Krystal Naucht or Nagasaki.
Certainly it is a day to be remembered, but with reflection rather than celebration.
The Fremantle Council felt that same unease about celebrating Australia Day as I did. But we are not alone. There is a growing national debate about these issues. It is a conversation our nation can have in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Read more »