The ‘Australia’ we are told to celebrate on January 26th is a colonial fiction. Invasion, genocide, rape, dispossession and the fierce defence of lands and cultures by Indigenous warriors defines this continent’s history.
Colonialism didn’t end with 1967 or Mabo, or with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It didn’t end when we watched as young school students in crowded classrooms as Kevin Rudd said ‘Sorry’.
More than 400 Aboriginal people have died in custody since 1991, and whilst our media class salivated over the internal politicking of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, Labor’s policies saw the rates of First Nations children being removed from their families more than double.
‘Australia Day’, year upon year, furnishes us with a state-sanctioned narrative at odds with thousands of years of Aboriginal land management and spiritual connection to land. Traditional ecological knowledge, in stark contrast to the capitalist treadmill of production, presents this country with the possibility of a brighter future during this dire bushfire season.
In Walgett and Collarenebri, the Barwon and Namoi rivers have run dry, leaving many towns without access to safe drinking water. Ecologies that flourished under the care of Indigenous hands before invasion have been desecrated under colonial rule.
As students at an elite university, we reap the benefits of dispossession every living moment. We recognise that Honi Soit does not exist outside the systems we seek to critique. Past editors of Honi Soit include Keith Windschuttle whose work as an editor for Quadrant and as the author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History represents everything we perceive to be wrong with nationalist pseudo-history.
We see no reason to entertain those that would have us celebrate such a day. Honi Soit does not subscribe to liberal ideas of political neutrality, and stands with First Nations people across so-called Australia in resisting such a display of Australian nationalism. We do not call for a change of date, but rather an abolition of any day of national celebration until over 230 years of ongoing injustice are addressed and remedied.
Throughout the week leading up to Invasion Day, Honi Soit will give a platform to Indigenous voices. We hope to address the severity of past abuses, the current climate of continued oppression and the ongoing resistance to colonialism by First Nations people around Australia. It is our pledge to foster and engage Indigenous voices, this week and throughout our term.
Our coverage will never remedy over 200 years of dispossession, nor should it be the focus of attention this week. We only hope that our coverage will inspire dialogue and learning. We encourage all to continuously seek further education, to read, to talk, to listen and, finally, to engage with individuals, communities and groups working tirelessly to redress our country’s tainted history, so we can work in solidarity towards a better future.
We call on all students to attend the Invasion Day march, and to get involved with local groups such as FIRE, ISJA and Grandmothers Against Removals. We must stand with First Nations communities 365 days a year.
Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.
Honi Soit 2020.
Honi Soit is distributed on Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation