Why WIRE is asking Victorians to stand with Indigenous women on January the 26th
Voices are not equally heard in Australia, in fact some are not heard at all. The voices of Australia’s Indigenous people is one, if not the most ignored voice in Australia- just look at the way the government rejected the Uluru statement in 2017. Indigenous people were asked to tell the government what they wanted. 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leader laboured – intellectually and emotionally to create the Uluru Statement asking for Makarrata- to come together to restore peace and settle disputes after a struggle, for it to only to be ignored and dismissed.
Non – Indigenous Australians are too quick to excuse the rebukes we serve up to Indigenous people. For example saying not every Indigenous person shared the same view or agreed on the same process so their opinion has no weight or authority. Yet non – Indigenous people are allowed to have differing opinions and those opinions are valued. To excuse our non-action and claim that granting Indigenous people a voice is, unreasonable, greedy and divisive without consideration of the harm we are committing and compounding is unconscionable. This all brings me to Australia Day being celebrated on 26 of January.
Australia day on January 26 celebrates the discovery of Australia, but Australia has been inhabited for well in excess of 40 thousand years. It completely dismisses the existence of Indigenous people. It celebrates the start of an invasion that would see genocide with many thousands of Indigenous people killed by violence, starvation and disease. But when Non- Indigenous Australians are made aware of how Australia Day reinforces the impacts of colonisation, racism and discrimination and violence especially on Aboriginal women, too many of us respond by ignoring and dismissing what we hear. Responses typically include, ‘but not EVERY Indigenous person has a problem with Australia Day, ‘they are being TOO sensitive’, ‘why CAN’T THEY just relax’, but what about US? Luckily more Australians, proud Australians are saying we hear you, we will not compound your hurt we will not celebrate Australia Day on January 26 and WIRE is one of this growing chorus of voices.
WIRE works with and listens to women, asks them what they want and we work with them to determine their options. If they say they are hurting we believe them, when they say they need certain things to be safe and secure, we listen. We have heard Indigenous people tell us clearly that Australia day is invasion day. We must read more of what Aboriginal women say, inform ourselves and listen to the solutions being put forward. And the solution is not hard. No one is saying don’t be proud of being Australian. I am a very proud Australian. All that is being asked is to be conscious of what is being celebrated, and to work alongside Indigenous Australians. Can it be so hard to celebrate Australia and ALL its people in a way that is truly inclusive and does not reinforce a nation’s voyage into dispossession, colonisation and genocide?
For these reasons WIRE will be supporting Women’s Health Association of Victoria’s Joint statement and asking all Victorians to stand with and hear the voice of Indigenous people. You can start by reading Indigenous Women Authors and Celeste Liddle’s fantastic article, Changing the date won’t fix Australia day.
Written by Julie Kun – Julie is a Non- Indigenous white Australian and CEO of WIRE
Want to learn more?