Invasion Day

In an event organised by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE) on January 26, more than 10,000 people gathered at The Block in Redfern to pay their respects to Australia’s first nations and show support for Indigenous rights.

Ken Canning, chairman of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, kicked off the event by saying: “It’s really great to see all of these faces here. We want this to be a healing day and we need this to be a peaceful event.” He added: “We are peaceful people despite what the media says.”

Representatives at the annual meeting of the Australian Local Government Association voted on June 20 to back a motion by Hobart city council to push for the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.

Hobart city council voted in April to sponsor changing Australia Day from January 26, a date many Indigenous people regard as Invasion Day.

This year, the City of Fremantle moved some Australia Day events to January 28, after local Aboriginal elders said January 26 was not a day to celebrate.

“This brings pride to our people. This is a turning of the tide!”, First Nation’s activist Ken Canning told the thousands on the streets for the Invasion Day march from Redfern to Chippendale on January 26. 

Indeed, it was. 

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) and The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) support renaming January 26 as “Invasion Day”. The two organisations decided this on January 15.

They are encouraging a rethink of the meaning of "Australia day" on January 26 to support justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. They are also urging people to attend one of the many nationwide protests on January 26 (see below).

When Fremantle councillors voted in August last year to end the Australia Day fireworks display that it had been running for the past eight years, I fully expected a conservative backlash. But even I was surprised to see the decision featured in news bulletins for months on end.

On one level the whole thing is bizarre. Local governments are not obliged to do anything special on January 26 and most of them don't.

What drove the conservative media and Coalition politicians into a frenzy was the council's reason for doing dropping the fireworks display.

As Invasion Day approaches, Murri leader Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly that January 26 was “only a date when a motley collection of boats made landfall on Gadigal country to establish the colony of NSW”.

“It is important to mobilise and march [on Invasion Day] to remind everyone that an illegal invasion took place on this soil," he said..

“They came here to launch a war of genocide against the 500 sovereign nations of this land.

“They came to invade as a fully-armed military force. They massacred and slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people.

Early last year, an academic debate over Invasion Day erupted at the University of NSW. Apparently, some well credentialed people are offended that the term “invasion” is used to describe January 26.

I would be quite happy not to have to use that term. Stop and think for a few minutes: that would mean altering history or going back in time and ensuring the invasion of this country, now called Australia, never happened. 

Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the flag for the first time in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788. In the early 1880s the day was known as “First Landing”, “Anniversary Day” or “Foundation Day”. In 1946 the Commonwealth and state governments agreed to unify the celebrations on January 26 and call it “Australia Day”.
Every year it becomes harder to ignore official Australia's celebrations of nationalism. For weeks, supermarket aisles have been given over to garish displays of things to buy for Australia Day on January 26: Australian flags and hats, stubby holders and thongs displaying Australian flags. None of it would look out of place at a Reclaim Australia rally. And then there is that ad for lamb featuring popular SBS broadcaster Lee Lin Chin. It is tongue-in-cheek, for sure, showing a military operation to enforce Australians worldwide to barbecue lamb for Australia Day.
Happy New Year for a few weeks ago or coming up in a couple of weeks, depending on whether you rely on a calendar or the moon for such things. I hope you had some time off and got to spend it relaxing with people you love, or if you were working, that you got plenty of time and a ... WATCH OUT FOR YOUR PENALTY RATES!!! Yes, that's right, while most of us were working or preparing for the strange rituals of the season, those busy little elves at the Productivity Commission had been slavishly working, day and night, to deliver a lovely big present to business and the government.

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