Australia Day/Invasion Day and our future

The ongoing debate about celebrating Australia Day on a day when a portion of our country people only remember invasion and dispossession is no way to celebrate as a nation.

We have built a good country here in these lands. We are a prosperous nation and one with a bright promise.

However, our origins are not good and happy ones. The country was founded by the British by means of an invasion, and the country was the founded as a penal colony, and for decades Australian Indigenous massacre mapit served as a dumping ground for those whom the British did not want or value.

The foundation of this country was characterised by the dispossession and punishment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is worth going to the research website Colonial Frontier Massacres in Australia, 1788-1930 to see how widespread massacres were (where a  massacre is defined as the indiscriminate killing of six or more undefended people).  The map here shows in yellow sites of Indigenous massacres.

We then followed this unhappy origin story by establishing the White Australia Policy as soon as Australia was federated as a nation in 1901. It was racist legislation that maintained Australia as a white nation, and included things like the notorious dictation test. The White Australia Policy remained in place until partially dismantled by the Holt government in 1966, and fully  repudiated by the Whitlam government in 1973. Since that time we have built a country where people from all over the world can share in the Australian dream of a free and fair society.

But I am not without hope. We can move forward together as a nation. We can acknowledge our Indigenous peoples and do what is called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and we can Change the Date of Australia Day. That way we can all move forward together, and build that future of bright promise for all of us.

The Uluru Statement

Written on Guringai land.

Reading list

Gordon, D. (2019). The Australian Dream: AFL legend Adam Goodes shares the story of his life and career to offer a deeper insight into race, identity, and belonging. Retrieved 26 January 2021, from https://iview.abc.net.au/show/australian-dream

Moses, A. D. (Ed.). (2004). Genocide and settler society: Frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history (Vol. 6). Berghahn Books.

National Museum of Australia. (n.d.). End of the White Australia policy, 1966. Retrieved 26 January 2021, from https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/end-of-white-australia-policy

Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark Emu, Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture.

Steffensen, V. (2020). Fire Country, How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia. Hardie Grant Travel.

NAIDOC Week 2020: Eight Books That Help Us Understand and Celebrate Our First Nations’ Culture NAIDOC Week 2020: Eight Books That Help Us Understand and Celebrate Our First Nations’ Culture | Better Reading

Author: Kate Carruthers

Kate Carruthers is Chief Data & Insights Officer for UNSW Sydney, and is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science & Engineering. She is a Certified Information Security Manager and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies terrorism and security. Kate has extensive experience in senior roles in ICT, marketing, data and digital; and is a member of the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Centre Advisory Board.