So what does Australia Day have to do with Good Grief, a page which is about grief and palliative care?
A lot really. When the hurts of the past are denied, the past can’t be put to rest.
Australians celebrate our national day today, January 26, when Captain Arthur Phillip brought the first fleet to Sydney soil, 232 years ago. Many of us ask why a day of invasion and colonisation is still chosen as our national day.
It’s not just that Australia Day is about the day the British took possession, the question comes up because the First nations people of Australia never conceded their territories either informally or in a treaty.
Add to this, the fact that Australia’s history of violence against its first people is ‘white-washed’. We pretend it didn’t happen. On another January 26 – at Waterloo Creek near Moree, in 1838, at least 28 Gamilaroi Australians, possibly many, many more were slaughtered in a massacre.
When historian Lyndall Ryan, who has spoken with me for a different project, first started researching the massacres of Aboriginal people all over Australia, particularly NSW, she was jeered at and the credibility of her evidence was questioned by her fellow historians. She explained that it was very hard to keep going when that happened. But somehow she found the courage to do so.
The average Australian still has little knowledge of the truth of the relationship between European and First nations people of Australia.
This morning, Yvonne Weldon, Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, in her welcome to country for the WugulOra ceremony explained that we need to know the history of what happened, so that we can all move forward.
She gave the Welcome to Country on the Eora nation’s land of Barangaroo today, although herself a Wiradjuri woman. But her’s are a gracious people, who are teaching white Australians a lot about moving forward, claiming the truth of our history and then finding the spiritual atonement we so badly need.
So Australia Day is a day of awkwardness for some and a day of grief for others, something this page which is about grief and subsequent healing acknowledges.