Invasion Day still a day of mourning
- Christina Goodman
- Thursday, 24 January 2013
Symbolic Aboriginal passports will play part of Invasion Day on Saturday, offering Sydneysiders and foreign tourists the opportunity to ask Indigenous people for permission to live in Australia.
The event is organised by rights advocacy group, Indigenous Social Justice Association as part of the Kinetic Jazz Festival in Stanmore. It follows a similar event held in September last year.
“It came out of Aboriginal people never having been asked if we could have permission to be here,” said jazz festival organiser, Jepke Goudsmit. “Over 200 years ago, nobody asked them. They were just taken over and annihilated, and their culture destroyed.”
Would-be passport holders can pledge to respect the land and its traditional owners, and then ask permission from Aboriginal elders to stay on their land.
“Anyone who is a non-Indigenous person who feels like they should really be asking permission to be here can get this symbolic passport,” said Ms Goudsmit.
Meanwhile, the Yabun Festival held in Victoria Park in Broadway on Saturday expects an attendance of over 20,000 people. The festival is in its 11th year, growing out of an earlier ‘Survival Day’ event.
General Manager of Gadigal Information Service and festival organiser, Lily Shearer emphasised the positive vibe of the event, which includes music, dance, theatre, arts, public lectures and art.
Ms Sheared said the festival aims to promote an improved understanding between Indigenous people and the broader community. But she agreed with the Invasion Day sentiment and encouraged people to “have a yarn” at some of the stalls while enjoying the festivities.
“We need to make this country a true nation of equality and sovereign rights for Aboriginal people,” said Ms Shearer.
“Sovereign rights for Aboriginal people is the key issue for us. We never gave up our land to anybody; that’s part of our right. And I know a lot of Aboriginal people who have the same mind. Native title is not land rights.
“Reconciliation is a government directive. And if you’ve ticked this little box because your organisation has a reconciliation action plan then ‘wow’, but how often do you come down and meet the grassroots people?
“Action is about being on the ground, meeting people and having that yarn.”
Within the wider Indigenous community, the terms ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day’ are controversial.
“Australia Day is fine with me. I think it is a very appropriate name,” said Lecturer and Researcher at the University of Western Sydney, Anthony Dillon. He identifies as part Aboriginal.
“To call it Invasion Day is to make some people feel guilty. It just further divides Indigenous from non-Indigenous people. We should become one,” said Mr Dillon.
“For those city slickers who want to winge and moan and groan, you do not have my sympathy.”
January 26 marks the 75th anniversary of the 1938 Day of Mourning protest organised by the Aborigines Progressive Association, which coincided with Australia’s celebration of 150 years since colonisation.
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