My own “sorry” this Invasion Day.

Dear Aboriginal people,

 

I want to say my own “sorry” this Invasion Day.

 

I’m sorry that at this time each year the supermarkets and discount shops fill shelves with the “Australian flag” which has the flag of the nation who invaded this country on it but do not have a single Aboriginal flag.

 

I’m sorry that my schooling as a child didn’t teach enough about aboriginal history and emphasised that Australia started in 1788. 40,000 years of your history pre 1788 is often completely untold and your history since 1788 is often ignored.

 

I’m sorry that people say, “it’s in the past” because of course it isn’t. Although I can’t understand what you go through, I know that in the media in the past year we’ve seen blackface, abuse in Dondale, extremely racist cartoons published in national newspapers and racism in sport.  Although we are beginning to become rightfully outraged about victims of violence, especially domestic violence, aboriginal victims are often ignored. I’m sorry that we continue to need organisations because Aboriginal people have a shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, poorer health (just to name a few shameful disadvantages.) And I have met some of the victims of the stolen generation who continue to live with the impact of what this country did to them. It is clear that it isn’t in the past.

 

I’m sorry that people say “it’s time to move on.” Have they moved on from the Anzacs? Have they moved on from the Bali Bombings? Remembrance Day? Black Saturday? Ash Wednesday? All things that we shouldn’t forget, don’t get me wrong. But you must certainly shouldn’t have to “move on” from your land being stolen, genocide and the centuries of repercussions that continued after that. We know these people would feel the same if “Modern Day Australia” was invaded and a day of celebration was forced upon them.

 

I’m sorry that people in this country cry, “why should I apologise or feel guilty for something I didn’t do?” I don’t understand why people spend more energy fighting against being sympathetic over being in solidarity. Forgive my simplistic analogy but when my child upsets another child in the playground I say “sorry” to that child and their parent despite me not actually being the perpetrator. Because I am part of the family. Because it is the decent thing to do. As an active citizen of this country (“the family”), that votes in elections, that pays taxes and that occasionally cheers for this country in international sports, I am utterly disgusted that we continue to discriminate against you and have a celebration on the 26th of January. I participate in a society where you do not have equality, I can’t help but feel guilty.

 

I’m sorry that people believe it is “Un-Australian” not to celebrate and that we should be unquestionably proud to be Australian. It is clear to me that not celebrating the 26th of January doesn’t mean people have to be disloyal, non-patriotic or generally ungrateful for living life in this country  (although I also believe you don’t have to have these qualities at all to love this land.) I wish people realised that if anything it means that they care for all people here, they understand more about the history of this country and realise celebrating “Australia Day” on the 26th of January excludes you.  What’s more, I realise many of you don’t even accept ‘Australia’ as this country’s name since it was stolen from you under the declaration of Australia as terra nullius so being called “Unaustralian” is offensive in more than one way. Even more ironic, I don’t think I have met anyone that loves and is more connected to this land than your people.

 

I’m sorry people use (often false) anecdotes to represent the entire Aboriginal community like, “I have a friend who is Aboriginal that celebrates ‘Australia Day.’” I see the pain many of you have each year on the 26th of January and anyone that bothers would realise this day has long been protested by you. Not to mention the vast amount of online articles I see aboriginal people write, how many outspoken aboriginal bloggers there are and aboriginal celebrities who have spoken out. I’m sorry that many people aren’t paying attention or bothering to find out how the majority of you feel.

 

I’m sorry some people exploit this country’s minorities and diversity in the name of “Australia Day” for their own agenda. Especially when I see how your community often stands in solidarity with minorities.

 

I’m sorry people prioritise their right to a public holiday, a BBQ and party over your pain and history. Solidarity really is the least people could do on this day; posting something on social media to create conversations and raise awareness, laying flowers on memorial sites, protesting along side you, or even writing a letters to MPs. It doesn’t take much, I wish people did more.

 

I’m sorry that so many who believe in Aboriginal rights are also complacent, quiet, and don’t actively fight for what they know is right. It seems that intellectually and emotionally many know this day is all sorts of wrong but it physically doesn’t impact on them so they don’t bother fighting for your rights.

 

I’m sorry that so many believe that changing the date is the solution to “Australia Day.” But with no treaty signed, with celebrations on land was was stolen from you, that you continue to face discrimination and racism and that the pain is still very present – I understand why you wouldn’t want to celebrate even on another day.

 

I’m sorry that I still make mistakes and still don’t know enough.

 

And finally, I’m sorry that this nation said “Sorry” and yet nothing much has changed. As we know, sorry is not in the word itself but in the actions that come after the word has been said. 

 

 

Annie

 

INVASION DAY RALLIES 2017:

SYDNEY https://www.facebook.com/events/236690090088950/

MELBOURNE https://www.facebook.com/events/215071755620856/

BRISBANE https://www.facebook.com/events/1234064616670638/

PERTH https://www.facebook.com/events/703178789841962/

ADELAIDE https://www.facebook.com/events/373858919632754/

MPARNTWE (ALICE SPRINGS): https://www.facebook.com/events/1199049856882858/

BALLINA, NSW:  https://www.facebook.com/events/235105183604169/?ti=icl

BERLIN https://www.facebook.com/events/141119153055991/

NEW ZEALAND: https://www.facebook.com/events/368460050200011/?ti=icl

PORTLAND, VIC: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT ADELAIDE, SA: 

(Please let me know if you know of more locations.)

 

Also to keep in mind:

Comments

  1. Thank you Annie. You’ve said everything I’ve been feeling, but have not been able to articulate myself. I’m hoping to attend my first Survival Day event in Belgrave, Melbourne tomorrow. http://www.burrinja.org.au/projects/belgrave-survival-day
    I’m sorry too…

  2. There is also one in Hobart!! Details can be found on Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Facebook page 😊 Absolutely love this!

  3. Carina ward says:

    Dearest Annie
    I’m sorry you had to write that amazing piece of truth.
    What a wonderful human being you are and I thank you.
    Carina

  4. This literally sums up everything/every thought that has been running through my head the last few weeks. So beautifully written xo

  5. Alyce and Trevor says:

    Thanks hun.. God bless you and your family.! Thanks for taking the time out to write this beautiful letter of acknowledgement… May you have a life time of happiness and love and peace..

    love from me and my little tribe.
    Alyce and Trevor and kids.
    ❤💛🔴 {~💛~}

    • Toni Simmonds says:

      Thank you Annie for putting into words all the things I think but have difficulty verbalising. I live in the town where 3 Aboriginal children were murdered and nothing was done about. I see and feel the pain of these most wonderful people. I hope your Sorry becomes the Sorry of our country and that one day we will stand united and equal in this country.

  6. Thanks Annie! While I can’t imagine what it feels like being an aboriginal Australian on “Australia day” I never know what to do or say to make a difference. The fremantle (in WA) council tried to move the citizenship ceremony to a more appropriate date and was shut down by the government. We need to do better!

  7. Thank you Annie, I feel exactly the same way. And to my Indigenous brothers and sisters, I am sorry xoxo.

  8. Bravo Annie,

    Well said, particularly your last paragraph
    “And finally, I’m sorry that this nation said “Sorry” and yet nothing much has changed. As we know, sorry is not in the word itself but in the actions that come after the word has been said. ”
    It’s the actions that this country still needs a lot of practice implementing.
    Blessings

    Harmoni Dowling

  9. Beautifully written. Thank you Annie xx

  10. “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future.
    Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground.”
    quote by Sara Ahmed, Cultural theorist (an Australian to be proud of).

  11. Cole Menzies says:

    Brilliant Post.
    Sorry is as common as vegemite these days and politicians use it like it’s petrol, simply to get from A to B.

  12. Alywin Mears says:

    Dear Annie
    I’m a 36 yr old man from the southwest of WA and my parents were part of the stolen generation and me and my siblings tried asking them questions about who,what,when why,they did not speak too much of it apart from their sports and family at the mission but I think what they want to say is exactly what has been written on your behalf,thank you not only myself but as all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for this paragraph,may god bless you

  13. Kate Robson says:

    Thankyou Annie, for your heartfelt words, your honesty, your wisdom, your compassion & empathy, your determination & your truth. You speak what I feel but could not have articulated so perfectly. Thankyou for caring enough to put your thoughts out there. I agree 100%

  14. Thank you Annie
    There’s is also a march in Mooree today 😊

  15. Pam Bannister says:

    Beautifully said Annie…I just wish more Australians would take the time to read about and really understand the facts, history and unresolved issues surrounding this part of our ‘nation’s’troubled past and present.
    Is it overt racism, ignorance, arrogance or simply a desire to refuse to acknowledge something that can be very confronting; the denial syndrome.
    This year we venture to the big smoke to “Share the Spirit”.

  16. Bronwyn Sebbens says:

    Beautiful words 🖤💛❤️

  17. Guy Saddleton says:

    Thank you Annie
    You have bravely and beautifully expressed what I believe many of us feel and would like to say but lack the words and maybe the courage to do so.
    I echo your words and feelings and add my own heartfelt sorry to yours and the others joining with you. My hope is that many, many more people will join this acknowledgement and that we may continue to move closer to truly honouring Aboriginals in Australia and engaging in the care and love of country and of ALL people on the planet as our indigenous brothers and sisters have examples do well to us in the face of such horrid and direct abuse
    Love & blessings 🙏💜🌅

  18. Carolyn Brown says:

    Good on you Annie xoxo

  19. John Lane says:

    Spot on Annie. So well said. We cannot celebrate this date or any other “Australia Day” until we have a national act of reconciliation and a treaty with the first peoples of this land; and that would just be the beginning! Thank you for your eloquence, to sum up what so many of us are felling.

  20. Well said Annie, I wish I had the ability to put into words what I have been thinking and feeling alot about the last few years, you nailed it and hopefully the change that needs to happen so badly happens sooner rather than later.
    Wake up Australia, admit our ancestors wrongs, and do something to help bring the change thats needed so badly.
    Scrap the bullshit history books and rewrite them honestly, teach the truth in schools. We have the worlds oldest living culture as the first people of this country, thats pretty fucking cool imho. I am sorry brothers and sister’s.
    Thankyou Annie.

  21. Good morning Annie..
    I like the many others tautoko (support) your words. I was proud to share your post on Facebook, with the following statement..

    “I have never really acknowledged or celebrated Australia day & if I did it was due to ignorance. Couple years ago I watched video what this day means to Aboriginal the indigenous people.
    As an indigenous Maori, NZ I can only imagine how i would feel if the same atrocities happened to my whanau (family) & people. So, I personally choose not to celebrate this Day..”

    Whakawhetai koutou Atua maanaki
    Thank you God bless
    Ann

  22. Lisa firkins says:

    Thankyou thankyou. For putting my feelings about invasion day so eloquently

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