For the past two years, the Australian government have thumped their chest at their “efforts” to remove the communication gap between the Indigenous peoples of the land and the descendants who arrived after 1788. They have touted programs such as “RECOGNISE,” offering to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples as the original owners of the land, while other government officials, inclusive of our recently replaced prime minister (Tony Abbott) claim that Australia was a vacant lot, full of trees and animals, until the British “discovered” it as a country.
Prior to the arrival of the British in 1788, Australia was inhabited by millions of us Blackfellas. I am a proud member of Gubbi Gubbi Country, which is situated on the central eastern coast of this large island.
This island was made up of over 500 different tribes, each with their own country. For many of us, our tribal countries are just as important today as they were 240 years ago.
Up until as recently as the 1970’s, the government were advising the white population of their “reasons” for taking away Black children from their families. They would say that the parents would kill and eat their own children and the white population would hang on to every single word, believing it simply because it was spoken by their government. Little did they realise that the real reason for taking the children away was because the government was uncomfortable with the children growing up with Black values, Black culture and a sense of belonging to their tribal country. These children were put into orphanages, brainwashed, forced to believe that all of their religious beliefs were false and that the only religion is christianity. Those children were then hand-picked by rich members of the public as slaves.
While time has passed and more and more people have arrived at our shores, those people are excited to celebrate the date of 26th January – the day in 1788 in which my ancestors of just 240 years ago were slaughtered, shot at point blank range, hung from trees, the women raped, their babies buried in the sand so that the sailors and convicts of the first fleet could play “soccer” to see how hard they could kick the baby’s head. Those who kicked the head the furtherest from the body were deemed the winner of the game.
Every year is the same, with tourists, new citizens and descendants of those original sailors and convicts celebrating a day that was, and always will be, the most hellish day in history for the Indigenous people of the land.
The request from the Indigenous people every year has not changed, and it is such a simple request. Change the date of Australia Day. Every single request is rejected by the government, and they wonder why we, the Indigenous and traditional owners of the land, have no respect for them.
While there used to be so many of us, there are now so few left. When we repeatedly ask for the date of Australia Day to be changed, we are met by a wall of people who ignorantly tell us to “Stop crying! We didn’t personally do it!” or “Get over it already!” One person who has truly shown the ignorance of today’s generation told us to “Pack your crybaby bags and piss off back to your own country!” This simply showed how sad our education system is in Australia these days. Australia always was and always will be Indigenous land, regardless of the yahoos that want to dance on our graves and ridicule us.
Many often wonder why the late David Bowie was so revered by our Indigenous population. In 1983, he visited Australia and was absolutely horrified at how we Blackfellas were treated. We were not permitted to sit in bars with white folk. We were not permitted to eat or drink on the same side of the street as those who were not of our colour. His film clip of the song “Let’s Dance” highlights the treatment that he abhorred so much.
So I ask yet again, knowing that the ignorant will possibly shoot me down… why, Malcolm Turnbull (and every Prime Minister before you), do you refuse to change the date of this nation-wide celebration? Watching all of these people with a beer in their hand, cheering, waving the flag that was created after our people were mass-murdered, our women were raped, our babies were massacred for fun… it hurts more than you could possibly imagine, and is akin to having your whole family murdered, only to have the nation attend the site of the murder, laughing and dancing in front of you each year on the anniversary of their death. You are dancing on our ancestors’ graves on a date that signifies the near extermination of our race by yours. Please change the date of Australia Day and help bridge the gap, making this nation whole.
The non-Indigenous population who now live on our land may have forgotten the true history of Australia, but we will never forget.
By changing the date of Australia Day, you would, in turn, be making history as the person that helped bring an end to the great divide between Black and white in the country which you now call Australia.
(forever proud to be Gubbi Gubbi)