January 26 is more than just a difficult time for First Nations communities in this country. For many First Nations People this date signifies the violence, trauma, harm and ongoing impacts of colonisation that their communities have experienced and continue to experience since invasion.
As many Australians grow and learn the true history of this country, it’s important for me to acknowledge and emphasise that this does not exclude myself and the team here at Amnesty.
In the past, Amnesty led a campaign to Change the Date of ‘Australia Day’ to a more appropriate date in the year, that isn’t attached to the violence of colonialism. Through this campaign we developed resources for activists, shared information and explainers, and organised a petition that accumulated nearly 30,000 signatures from people across the country who were keen to see the date changed too. The last time we were active on this campaign was 2018.
As an organisation committed to human rights and First Nations justice, Amnesty International Australia is no longer campaigning to change the date. In the time that has passed since we first campaigned on this issue, a lot has changed.
We have seen the conversation shift. We have heard the voices of First Nations communities demanding justice and accountability – and we’re listening.
January 26 is not a date to celebrate. However, it is our firm belief that there is not an appropriate date at any time in the year to celebrate colonisation, violence, trauma and the ongoing impacts of that harm on First Nations people.
First Nations voices must be at the centre of the decisions, conversations, and campaigns that affect their communities. Amnesty is committed to upholding this with meaningful allyship – and equally as committed to listening and doing better when this allyship falls short.
Tomorrow, I encourage you to ensure First Nations people remain at the centre of your allyship. Attend local events in your area that acknowledge the survival of First Nations People, and the significance of the mourning communities are still experiencing due to injustices.
They’ve included digital actions you can take as well as some incredible watch, read and listen recommendations to further your learning of the true history of this country, its ongoing impacts, and what we can all do to meaningfully fight for First Nations justice.
Amnesty International Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and work throughout Australia. We pay respect to Elders past and present.
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