On the eve of what is widely celebrated as “Australia Day”, the Edmund Rice Centre has released a Statement calling for 26 January to become a day of reflection, compassion and liberation.
On 26 January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack and proclaimed British sovereignty over the eastern part of the Australian continent.
Since then, what historically started as a day to celebrate the founding of the British colony of New South Wales has now become a day when most Australians celebrate national identity and unity. However, First Nations people perceive this celebration to be analogous to celebrating colonialism. First Nations people regard 26 January as Invasion Day, a Day of Mourning or Survival Day.
Mr Phil Glendenning, Edmund Rice Centre Director and co-founder of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, said: "If we choose to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January, then we as a nation must accept responsibility for the hurt and distress to First Nations people and make amends for our actions.
“Further, we must take responsibility for owning and fully understanding our thinking, which dismisses First Nation voices, not only regarding the inappropriateness of celebrating on 26 January but also regarding the continuing impacts of colonisation on First Nations peoples.
“The date of 26 January must become a day for reflection, compassion and liberation – What exactly are we celebrating? Why do we insist on celebrating Australia Day on 26 January? And what kind of messages do our celebrations send to First Nations people?
“This is a precious opportunity to think about how we can liberate ourselves from the yoke of colonialism and make our nation more inclusive of First Nations peoples, as well as others who have come to this country, particularly asylum seekers and refugees.”
To read the Edmund Rice Centre Statement, click here
For more information and interviews, contact:
Mr Phil Glendenning AM, Director Edmund Rice Centre, Co-founder Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, President (2012-2021) Australian Council for Refugees. E-mail: [email protected]