Invasion day. Hip hip hooray?

Words by Caitlyn (she/her), 18 NSW 


Hey! It’s been a little while since we last caught up, and with a public holiday just around the corner, I thought we should celebrate that time my ancestors robbed, murdered, and enslaved your ancestors. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?

The idea that the 26th of January could ever be a date on which all Australians come together and celebrate is ludicrous. For the Australians who’ve been here from the get-go, this day will always be one of mourning.

For years, First Nations people and allies have been rallying support to change the date. It seems like a simple solution — why celebrate a day rooted in such dark history when we could celebrate on literally any other day? Then the celebration could actually be the inclusive event people claim it is.

Yet there are many people who are very against this idea. They say that we can’t change the date because it would change too much history. After all, we’ve celebrated Australia day on 26 January for so long, right?

The truth is that the first year Australia day was nationally recognised as a public holiday was in 1994.[1] This was 56 years after First Nations people declared the 26th to be a day of mourning the mass genocide and erasure of culture brought upon them by settlers. Just another thing blatantly stolen from First Nations people, followed by the complete denial that it was ever theirs to begin with.

Besides, it’s not like people who are against changing the date care about history, unless it backs up their limited worldview. The second the long history of First Nations People’s suffering at the hands of settlers and their successors is brought up, it’s completely dismissed because it’s considered to be ‘ancient history’ and ‘not our problem’.

Australian Senator Pauline Hanson said that people just need to “get over the problems that have happened in the past – we’re talking about over 200 years ago.”[2] Now of course, this is the same woman who publicly stated that she believes she’s Indigenous to Australia, so we can expect outlandish things to come from her mouth. But many Australians share this same point of view and mock those who believe changing the date is necessary.

It’s worth noting Hanson’s diction here; “Problems that have happened in the past.”

Every time politicians discuss our nation’s abhorrent history vague terminology is used to minimise the suffering. The same people who say, ‘we all need to just move on’, are the people who can’t get themselves to even acknowledge the atrocious treatment of First Nations people.

The invasion may have happened 200 years ago, but the long-lasting effects can be seen in every aspect of life.

  • Our last PM Scott Morrison publicly denied that there was ever slavery in Australia. [3]
  • First Nations People make up only 3% of our population, yet over 32% of our prisons’ population, and are 10 times more likely to be locked up than other Australians. [4]
  • First Nations children are 26 times more likely to be locked up than other Australian children. [5]
  • First Nations people made up more than 15% of those who died in incarceration between July of 2021 and June of 2022. Of the 16 First Nations people to die, 4 hadn’t yet been sentenced.[6]
  • The Stolen Generations ended in the 1970s, and yet in 2021, 42.2% of children removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care were First Nations children, whilst only making up 6% of Australia’s general population. [7]    

None of this is ancient history. Listen to First Nations people. Change the date.


Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

[1] Australia day hasn’t always been on January 26 – The Conversation

[2] Pauline Hanson 2022

[3] Scott Morrison denies slavery in australia

[4] guardian incarceration stats

[5] First Nations incarceration rates

[6] guardian incarceration stats

[7] First Nations Children Out of Home

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