Assembly Members share their views on January 26

In the lead up to January 26 — a day that the Assembly recognises as Invasion Day and Survival Day — Assembly Members share their views on this significant date.

To view the Assembly’s statement on January 26, click here.

Tracey Evans

Proud Gunditjmara woman and Assembly Member representing the Metropolitan Region

“We as First Nations of this beautiful country have been mourning as a nation for a lot longer than the day has been celebrated.

I won’t celebrate a day that continues to remind me of the colonial history of this country where my people were denied their rights, their freedom, their language, their lands and culture.

I want to be free of this date so that my future generations can stand united and as one with our fellow Australians.

On January 26th, like every year, I will think of my Ancestors – their strength, their courage and how they fought and sacrificed so much to give me a better life than what they were given.”

Ngarra Murray

Proud Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa, Dja Dja Wurrung woman and Assembly Member representing the Metropolitan Region

“My grandfather protested against Australia Day in 1938. [More than] eighty years on, Australia’s First Peoples still have no reason to rejoice on January 26 — and we never will.

Far too many Indigenous Australians continue to face stark inequality, and remain a marginalised and impoverished minority.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 25 times more likely to be sent to detention than non-Indigenous young people, the child mortality rate is double the national average and Indigenous people still die at least 10 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.

January 26 is a day of sorrow and despair. For us, January 26, 1788, is the day our country was invaded, our people killed and our land stolen.

The inescapable reality is that Australia’s current national day excludes and alienates our people — 80 years after my grandfather marched the streets in a fight for equality, the time to change the date is here.”

To read Ngarra’s full ABC opinion piece on January 26, click here.

Trevor Gallagher

Proud Gunditjmara man and Assembly Member representing the Metropolitan Region

“What does Jan 26th mean to me, a Gunditjmara man who is now 68 years young?

What does it mean to my wife who is non-Aboriginal? She says it’s a bullsh*t day and a day when Cook had claimed a land for mother England, a land that already was owned and still should be owned by the true owners.

My 11 year old daughter says she doesn’t really like it.

My 13 year old son says he and his school mates don’t even get a holiday for it because it occurs during his school holidays.

But really my personal view on Australia Day is this: If they leave the date as is then we as a nation of people will never let white Australia ever forget what they have done to the Aboriginal people.

What I want to see is the truth being told to the world and to white Australia about the rape of our women, all the massacres that had taken place all over the Aboriginal lands, the Stolen Generations that were removed from their families, and all the stolen lands – and what better way to tell white Australia than on a day that is sacred to them.

You see – here’s the thing, what if they do change the date and whatever date that is, they are still going to celebrate the day they invaded our lands and stole our lands, and here’s another point if they change the date does it mean we can all live happily ever after and we will forgive and forget… mmm not sure about that.

I think Jan 26th gives Aboriginal peoples a chance to have their voices and their rights heard under the umbrella of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

Yes I do celebrate Australia Day on the 26th but it’s a different celebration to white Australia: I celebrate the SURVIVAL of the Aboriginal peoples because it’s truly a miracle that any of us are still here.”

Aunty Esme Bamblett

Proud Bangerang, Wiradjuri and Taungurung woman and Assembly Member representing the Metropolitan region

“I think that Australia Day is about patriotism and reconciliation. However, it is very difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to celebrate a day that led to the horrific history of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Australia Day should be celebrated, but only when there is a Treaty between Aboriginal people and the Government that recognises the past injustices and takes steps to alleviate the pain and continued oppression of Aboriginal people.

It should not be celebrated on the day when non-Aboriginal people came to our shores and moved our people off their country and established systems of Governance that were oppressive and culturally genocidal.”

Melissa ‘Lisa’ Jones

Proud Latje Latje, Wotjabuluk woman and Assembly Member representing the North West region

“What does the 26th mean to me and my mob.

We celebrate 26th as Invasion Day.

Day of slaughter of our people and the taking of our lands.

Day of Sorrow for our people.

Take away the Landing of Captain Cook, scrap it.

How can we move on and heal… when the nation celebrates Country they stole off us.” – Melissa Jones