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Tomorrow’s ‘Australia Day’ public holiday is not a celebration for all Australians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities mark this day as Survival Day or Invasion day. Our colleagues at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) explain why:

“Since colonisation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been subjected to government-sanctioned violence, policies that removed children from families, the removal of people from their lands and the denial of self-determination.”

Unless you are from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family it is not possible to understand truly the trauma that these actions have caused or their devastating impact. It is possible however for all Australians to recognise that what has happened to on our first nations peoples is wrong and that they continue to deal with racism and injustice. I feel for our staff who are members of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities and on behalf of YSAS I express my deep respect for the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and how fortunate we all are as Australians to live in a country with such a rich and diverse heritage that is ancient and profound.

I support calls for a new National Holiday as put forward by ‘Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation’  and I encourage you all to stand with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Public Holiday tomorrow while taking care to be COVID Safe. There are events across Victoria.

Our YSAS Youth Advocate, Sarah Santana, published a thoughtful article for YSAS staff with information on the ‘Invasion Day’ rally that will be held on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne from 10:30am. The organisers, the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, have a COVID safety plan in place with marshals to control attendees.

Our headspace Frankston and community site, including our Aboriginal health team, will be at the local Our Survival Day community event at Briars on the Mornington Peninsula on Tuesday. 

Finally, I encourage you all to revisit the ‘First nation voices’ workshop at our recent ‘Festival of Ideas’ and listen to Uncle Pat Parrant, Cormak Evans from ‘Strong Brother Strong Sister’ and Carissa Watts, our Cultural Co-ordinator at Bunjilwarra.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this message.

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