The Day of Mourning, a protest held by Aboriginal Australians on 26 January, first began in 1938. Since then, the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships to Port Jackson has been met with mixed feelings by Australians, and the Hellenic Women’s Federation of Victoria, Democritus Workers League and Darebin Ethnic Communities Council have organised an event that recognises the trauma faced by the indigenous communities.
For the First Nation’s People, the arrival of the first fleet on 26 January 1788 is viewed as Invasion Day. It is the day that the British colonialism arrived uninvited to steal their land.
The belief at the time that the land was uninhabited (i.e. terra nullius) is, according to indigenous groups, viewed as a lie. The intention at the time was to dispossess the First Nation’s people and to establish the colonisers as the “legal” owners of Australia.
From the beginning of colonial settlement in 1788 till the 1920s, aboriginal Australians were hunted, massacred and driven off their land.
The darkest moments of colonialism were when the state sponsored abductions of Aboriginal children took place, a practice that continued until the 1970s. Children were taken to orphanages or given up for adoption to white families.
In 2020, this is still a problem facing Aboriginal peoples with more children being taken from their families, more deaths in custody and a greater than ever number of Aboriginal people being incarcerated than the rest of the community.
The Hellenic Women’s Federation of Victoria, Democritus Workers League and Darebin Ethnic Communities Council are participating in a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the victims of the genocide. The centre stands by the indigenous communities, and states: “Aboriginal communities are still immersed in the darkness of abandonment and exploitation by the ongoing polices of government and sections of the community. We say that this is untenable. We claim and uphold the rights of Indigenous people. We are in solidarity in their struggles for human rights.”
The wreath-laying ceremony takes place at the Darebin Community Monument for All Victims of Genocide at the Ray Braham Gardens (corner of Bell Street and St Georges Road, Preston) at 1.30pm on 25 January.
Following the ceremony at 3pm, Lidia Thorpe, a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman and a former member of the Victorian Parliament, will deliver a speech at the Democritus Cultural Center (583 High Street, Northcote). She will talk about invasion day, and a discussion will follow.
Admission is free, and everyone is welcome. Refreshments will be provided.