On Tuesday 26 Jan 2021 Australians will mark the two-hundred-and-thirty-third anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet and will celebrate this occasion with COVID-safe ceremonies and events across the country. However, we are also reminded that for many this date symbolises the beginning of genocide, invasion and survival for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The division about this date is not new. On 26 January 1938 when Australia was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the British tall ships, Aboriginal peoples held the first Day of Mourning in Sydney at the Australian Hall in the Cyprus Hellene Club in Elizabeth Street. Attended by prominent Aboriginal leaders of the day, the Day of Mourning highlighted the exclusion of Aboriginal people from the Australian nation.
Some would say that exclusion continues when each year, in the lead up to 26 January, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples endure ugly attitudes that resurface fuelled by hate, stereotypes and inaccurate information. This can take a heavy toll on their emotional wellbeing but regardless of these difficulties Australia’s First Peoples stand strong! Some Aboriginal community members try to heal the deep wound by participating in Australia Day celebrations, while many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples recognise 26 January as a Day of Mourning, Invasion Day or Survival Day.
Progress on the recognition and acceptance of our shared history may appear to be slow but recently one word was changed in the Australian national anthem to recognise that Australia is home to the longest living culture in the world. Opinions are divided on whether it goes far enough and many would argue there are still some other matters that Australia has not dealt with properly. However, this amendment to the anthem signifies a change for many people in the community.
In the spirit of healing, annecto celebrates the rich contribution individuals and groups bring to the Australian community and embraces the diversity of its staff, the people who it supports and its partners.
We are fortunate to have relationships with some Aboriginal peoples, including specific partnerships with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) and Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group. We honour our partners, our staff and the people we support who identify as Australia’s First Peoples.
While we recognise that a range of perspectives are held on Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day, we acknowledge and pay our respects to Australia’s First Peoples and those who mourn their ancestors and/or celebrate survival as a result of the first wave of European arrival.
We are all privileged to live in a beautiful country with an ancient history and culture going back to the dawn of time. We hope that on this day, you may join in commemorating our deep and rich history and committing to the inclusion of and healing for all Australians. #LestWeForget
Some of the events held to commemorate Invasion Day/Survival Day/ Day of Mourning are:
• Yabun Festival in Sydney will be live streamed from three isolated venues – the Yabun stage, Speak Out and Corroboree. Tune in for the live broadcast on yabun.org.au from 11am to 5pm on 26 January.
• Share the Spirit Festival, 26 January, at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne is a free but ticketed event in line with COVID 19 safe procedures. Check out the details on thttps://www.facebook.com/sharethespiritfestival/
• Belgrave Survival Day in Melbourne has been downsized to a 26 January evening fundraiser screening of the film High Ground. Funds will go toward next year’s event. More information https://www.facebook.com/belgravesurvivalday/
• Wed 27 January 12,30-2pm annecto staff and care recipient/participants Zoom yarn about what does 26 January mean?