January 26th is recognised as Australia Day, a day to celebrate our country and the people who call it home, and everything that makes Australia such a wonderfully diverse and multicultural nation.
However, for many Australians, particularly the First Peoples of this land, January 26th marks Survival Day or Invasion Day. It is important to acknowledge and understand the reasons behind this.
As we celebrate the beginning of European settlement in Australia it is timely also to remember the importance of acknowledging the traditional owners of Australia.
For the Aboriginal people who were present when Captain Phillip landed in 1788, the arrival of Europeans was truly an invasion and its effects are still being felt today by their descendants – and the descendants of the other First Peoples of this land.
We should honour the efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reclaim their history and demand recognition from Australia’s governments.
One important way we can do this is to acknowledge traditional owners at the beginning of meetings and gatherings, or to arrange for an appropriate Indigenous person to make a welcome to country.
– Australia Day/Survival Day, Social Justice Diary 2017, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC)
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) have published a booklet that explains how to give a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners, available here.
You may like to consider also reading the Edmund Rice Centre’s article, “5 ways to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Australians this Survival Day,” which offers some insight into why a number of Australians view January 26th as Survival Day or Invasion Day.