Feature image: Keely Silva, @Deadlydots_
In 2021, Mamamia will only refer to January 26 by its date, to acknowledge that it is not a day of celebration for all Australians. If you want to be an ally this January 26, we urge you to send your MP the letter at the bottom of this page. It's about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for constitutional change and structural reform that recognises the sacred, ancient spiritual link Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to their land.
For many Australians, January 26 is a date synonymous with murder and invasion. It's the day the British hoisted their flag at Port Jackson, signifying the beginning of two centuries of dispossession, disease epidemics, abuse, forced separation of families, violence, and policies that would permanently destroy elements of Indigenous culture.
As a result, January 26 is referred to by some as Invasion Day, Survival Day, or Day of Mourning. It is not, they argue, a day of celebration, and as a result, the date we call 'Australia Day' needs to change.
Changing the date alone, however, would never be enough. What has to come with symbolic change is a shift in attitudes and recognition of the fact that Australia's history started long before January 26, 1788.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for constitutional change and structural reform that recognises the sacred, ancient spiritual link Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to their land; a sovereignty that "co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown".
Reconciling these two sovereignties would result in a fuller expression of Australia's nationhood and help address what the statement's authors describe as "the torment of our powerlessness" — the kind that has seen huge numbers of young Aboriginal people end up behind bars.
That change requires reforms based on three key elements:
Voice. The statement proposes enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. This voice — likely a parliamentary advisory body of traditional owners — would afford First Nations people a say in the laws and policies that are created about them; something they have systematically been denied for more than 200 years.