January 26 is not a date to celebrate.

January 26 is a day the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (the Assembly) recognises as Invasion Day and Survival Day.

It’s a day that marks the anniversary of colonisation and dispossession of this nation’s First Peoples in 1788.

It is a day we remember our Ancestors, pay respect to our Elders, mourn a harsh colonial past, and acknowledge the survival and strength of our communities and cultures. It is a day that we continue to fight for our rights and push for social and structural change in Australia.

For the nation to establish a date for celebration built on truth, justice, equality, and respect – we need to take real steps to address the ongoing impacts of colonisation and centre the sovereignty and self-determination of the First Peoples of this land.

The Assembly’s work towards Treaty and establishing a Truth-telling process in Victoria is an integral part of this conversation.

Treaty is a pathway to better outcomes for Aboriginal people, particularly when we consider the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system, deaths in custody, repeated removal of children from their families and homelessness.

Treaty is a recognition of sovereignty and sets the grounds for a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people based on equality and respect.

There can be no Treaty without truth. Acknowledging the true colonial history of Australia is fundamental to creating a shared understanding and building stronger foundations for our future.

The Assembly’s work towards Treaty and Truth-telling in Victoria will begin a landmark new chapter for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

Until we have Treaty, we cannot support a national day of celebration built on the genocide of this land’s First Peoples.

Image: 1938 Day of Mourning protest

Image: 2020 Invastion Day rally Melbourne

Source: AAP