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Thousands of the public gathered and reflected in Forrest Chase yesterday, remembering the Australian history that cannot be erased.

The slogans ‘Always was and Always will be’ and ‘Change the Date’ are scattered within the crowd, calling Australians to change the national celebration.

Different elders, including Senior Bibbulmun elder Aunty Mingli Wanjurri McGalde, who continue the fight for years share their thoughts on this day of mourning.

“This is Invasion Day. The government has to listen to us. It’s nothing for us to celebrate. Why would we celebrate our destruction, our stolen lands, our stolen children, our women being taken from the land and our men in prison?”

Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest living civilisation, with more than 500 Indigenous groups inhabited in Australia predating British colonisation. The story began in 1770, when Captain Cook raised the British flag and claimed the east coast of Australia for the British Crown. The intention: to expand its hegemonic power and to find a solution to Britain’s overcrowded prisons.

In 1788, Captain Arthur Philip, who later became the first Governor of New South Wales, brought 1500 convicts and crew members to Botany Bay and later settled at Sydney Cove, on January 26th. This invasion stripped our First Nations people of their rights, their land and their freedom, and attempted to extinguish their strong connection to land, culture and identity. The 26th of January marks the introduction of race conflicts that have never ceased on this land.

Celebrations of ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’ were first practiced in New South Wales by large dinners and drinking during the 1800s. ‘Australia Day’ was declared a national public holiday in 1994.

Image Credit – Maggie Leung

A step forward

It has been five years since the Fremantle Council changed the celebration of Australia Day to another date, renaming it ‘One Day’ which this year was celebrated on the 24th January. This is just one city council who is working towards a more inclusive, respectful celebration of our country and what it means to be Australian, for all Australians. Some other local councils across Australia also agree on this date change.

Starting this year, the Australian anthem will replace ‘For we are young and free’ to ‘For we are one and free’ in an attempt to acknowledge our First Nations people.

This controversial national celebration is but one example of the unhealed wounds inflicted upon our Aboriginal communities. Wounds we tear open on an annual basis for the excuse to crack open a cold one.

Image Credit – Maggie Leung