Reflecting on Australia Day is important to the members and Executive of the Shepparton Interfaith Network, as we advocate for greater intercultural understanding on this day and every other day. We believe First Nations perspectives need to be heard and honoured.
26 January Australia Day
26 January is somewhat emergent as a day of division.
On the one hand, many celebrate and have public breakfasts, citizenship ceremonies and proclaim the splendour of Australia. This is welcome and beneficial to all Australians.
On the other hand, there are dawn smoking ceremonies, indigenous circles and dance, and proclamation that Australia Always was – Always will be country filled with indigenous law, indigenous culture, a country of the Dreaming.
Now we come to the celebration named Australia Day, also known as Invasion Day, is a day that marks a substantial amount of history within this nation. It represents the beginning of colonisation under British rule within this country. However, it also emancipates the voices of Indigenous Australians – a day of protest, an opportunity to reaffirm their survival and raise awareness to the injustices that First Peoples are confronted with. Undoubtedly the consequences of colonisation still exist – which is why it is important to be sensitive to the different meanings and interpretations of this day across Australia.
While it’s important to acknowledge Australia’s national achievements and celebrate national pride, it is equally important to empathise and understand the post-colonial trauma that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to experience and the negative connotations associated with this day. It is our duty to build greater harmony and as a nation we must reflect and let the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders be heard.