Happy Australia Day!

This topic is dear to my heart. However, this post could be my most  controversial, unpopular and uncomfortable one yet. Hold on to your seats!

My post is paying homage to #beamaddock ‘s art called Terra Spiritus. “Monumental in scale and ambition, Terra Spiritus … with a Darker Shade of Pale is a 52-panel drawing work that details the entire Tasmanian coastline, inscribed with indigenous place names, and took six years to make” [1]

Australia – lucky country
I came to Australia at the age of 16 from the Philippines. I really don’t know much about the history of Australia. World History was taught in Year 10 at the Catholic school I went to in Singalong, Manila.  I left in Year 9. But I doubt that they will tell the stories and plight of the Aboriginal people in the hands of the colonist. They would probably focus more on The Gold Rush in 1851.

When I was in  Year 11,  I remember writing essays why Australia is a “lucky country.” Below are some of the words from the Australian Anthem:


“We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.”

“For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.”

When I started University, as a social science student, I learnt about Australia’s sinister past. I the “lucky” immigrant enjoying Australia’s bountiful and boundless gifts today. However, the native people of Australia were massacred, their children stolen and stripped of their land  (and still is).

Australia’s Policy of Assimilation ‘proposed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be allowed to “die out” through a process of natural elimination, or, where possible, assimilated into the white community.’ [2]

First Nations children were forcibly removed from their families between the years 1910-1970. This is only a century and less ago!

The world’s oldest civilisation is ALIVE (barely)
There is still much suffering due to this now. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia. More info and statistics here.

The truth shall set us all free
I know what you might be thinking. Why do I need to dampen the mood by mentioning Australia’s bloody past on Australia Day? I wish I can turn a blind eye; keep sipping my Moscato, keep nibbling my cheese and bikkie BUT I CAN’T. I am crying and bleeding for the Aboriginal people now*.

We can only move forward as a nation by accepting the hurt and shame of the past. First Nation’s culture will flourish and thrive. Humanity can learn from them!

References

[1] Stephens, A. (2013) Painting with ice and fire , The Sydney Morning Herald (online)

[2] Behrendt, L. 2012, Indigenous Australia for Dummies, Wiley Publishing Australia PTY LTD, Milton, Australia, pg. 295

Resources
Hannah Gadsby’s Oz (2014) – explores Australia’s art to debunk the myths of Australian identity. This actually what motivated me to write this piece. This show is can be watched at Stan.

https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/australian-history/stolen-generations

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-aborigines-stolen-factbox-idUSSYD20665020080213

https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice

https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/face-facts-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples

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*I am crying and bleeding as I did for my Filipino ancestors when they fought the Spaniards. (Philippines was colonised in 1521).

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