Australia Day in the Blue Mountains: A Celebration of Survival
6/02/22 By Deborah Wall, Leura Uniting Church Covenanting member and Women’s Reconciliation Network member
A contemporary Aboriginal choreographer and Director of Wagana Aboriginal Dancers, Jo Clancy danced with her students mimicking hunting and gathering motions of traditional people and other creatures of the land that feed and survive on Mother Earth’s terrain. Their creative performance highlighted for me the link between humanity’s sustainability and the need for us all to conserve our planet earth’s natural resources.
The newly formed Leura Uniting Church Covenanting Group which focuses on relationship building with First Nations people attended the gathering.
From a broader national outlook, a fundamental question being persistently asked every year on Australia Day is: what exactly are we celebrating on this day? Is it Invasion Day, Survival Day or, a Day of Mourning? Torres Strait Islander author, Thomas Mayor pointed out that such a question that highlights Australia’s sense of identity as a nation, has a simple answer.
If we have a Constitutionally-enshrined Voice, it would enable First Nations people to have their say along with other Australians in deciding when and in what manner we as a nation should celebrate Australia Day.
The prickly contention, in Mayor’s own words, follows:
‘It is a crying shame that Governor Arthur Phillip did not have the humanity to negotiate the British settlement with First Nations people, rather than commence a brutal invasion: the herding of families and forcing them off cliffs; the thrashing our babies’ heads against rocks; the poisoning of our waterholes and blankets; the dispossessing us of our homelands, our shelter, our food and water sources; the enslavement and keeping our wages; the destruction of our most sacred and ancient of places; the forced assimilation and taking our children – it all began on January 26, 1788. January 26 is the date that marks the end of over 60 millennia of comparative peace’.
Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 2022 https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-answer-to-australia-day-is-already-right-in-front-of-us-20220124-p59qwk.html