It’s that time of year again when Australians gather to celebrate this wonderful country we live in, on which many citizenship ceremonies are held, and on which we acknowledge the achievements of Australians through various awards and event across the country. It’s also a reminder of there being some controversy around the 26 January date and the different views that surround it.
The Change the Date campaign says “we should be able to come together and celebrate the things about our nation that we’re proud of and grateful for. However, celebrating these things on the 26t January can divide us as Australians by marginalising and offending many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who see this date as commencing a chain of events that had disastrous consequences” for their communities.
The division about this date is also 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.
While some Aboriginal community members today take part in mainstream celebrations in an effort to try heal the deep wound, many Aboriginal groups hold their own ceremonies to mourn their ancestors and/or to celebrate their survival despite the events that have happened as a result of the invasion of their lands by the British.
annecto embraces the diversity of annecto staff, clients and partners and we celebrate the rich contribution individuals and groups bring to the Australian community.
We are also fortunate to have strong relationships with Aboriginal people, including specific partnerships with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) and Babana Aboriginal Mens Group, and we honour these partners, our staff and clients who identify as Australia’s First Peoples.
While we recognise that a range of perspectives are held on Australia Day, 26 January, 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 celebrating our deep and rich history and committing to the inclusion of and healing for all Australians.
Estelle Fyffe, CEO