JANUARY 26 isn’t a date Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans elder Aunty Fay Carter celebrates.
“I actually go into mourning,” she said.
Instead of feeling disappointed and sad every time ‘Australia Day’ rolls around, the 84-year-old would like to feel included.
“We’d all like to be able to celebrate being Australian on Australia Day,” Aunty Fay, who has been appointed a Medal of the Order of Australia, said.
“We just can’t celebrate on that day. I think most Aboriginal people feel that way.”
The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, which her son Rodney Carter leads, has declined a number of invitations to be involved in central Victorian Australia Day festivities.
Instead, Mr Carter said he sent the half-dozen or so councils an apology and an insight into how the date affected the Dja Dja Wurrung.
“The history of our people and the past effects upon our ancestors when newcomers came to our country was largely a violent and traumatic period,” the corporation wrote.
“The past intrusions are somewhat yet to be better understood and accepted by others and it is part of our vision that future generations will come to know of the truth in our shared history.
“We would believe that when that time arises, we would all be better placed to realise a collective Australian identity to be shared and owned by all.
“We would believe that all of our children and those not yet born deserve the honesty by us all as it will stand any test as to our maturity as a collective caring community.”
The corporation concluded by saying: “We believe that it is time for us to come together as a nation and have a national day that is inclusive of all our histories.”
Mr Carter believed the councils, including Greater Bendigo, understood and appreciated the leadership the corporation was bringing to the conversation.
“Everyone has responded really constructively,” he said.
He said the corporation’s stance on January 26 was not new.
Mr Carter did not believe the Dja Dja Wurrung had been involved in any Australia Day celebrations in the three years he had been the group chief executive.
The National Australia Day Council recognises 1994 as the year celebrating Australia Day on January 26 became established.
It is the anniversary of the day Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack at Sydney Cove in 1788.
The idea of a holiday named Australia Day dates back to a campaign by the Australian Natives’ Association – a society for Australian-born men of European descent – in the 1930s.
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