Woroni acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, on whose land Woroni is created. We pay our respects to elders, past, present and emerging.
Thousands of protestors gathered in Garema Place last Friday, marching initially to Parliament House and finally to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, to protest the celebration of the 26th of January as Australia Day.
Indigenous leaders and elders decried the high Indigenous incarceration rates, the deaths in custody, the removal of First Nations children, the escalated racism and division that the community faced during and following the Voice to Parliament Referendum. Speeches also featured a call for global Indigenous solidarity for the Palestinian people and the people of West Papua, with multiple Palestinian speakers invited to take the stage.
One ANU student told Woroni, the coalescence of Indigenous voices and struggles, “shows that Indigenous solidarity (goes) beyond our borders”.
Speaking of the speeches, they say, “their struggles did not compete…it was beautiful how they made space for each other”.
The 26th of January commemorates the first European settlement of the Australian continent as the anniversary of Captain Arthur Philip’s landing in Botany Bay on Gadigal Land. The 26th, however, holds a different meaning for the different Indigenous nations.
Maggie-Knight Williams (she/they) of the Ngunnawal and Gamilaraay nations, explains, “We didn’t experience first contact on the 26th of January. Although, we experienced it years later in the frontier wars”.
“I come from the bloodlines of massacres in the so-called state of New South Wales, which followed on from that proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard. And it was that proclamation that declared that this place was terra nullius, which directly caused the massacre of my ancestors”.
“It directly caused me to be this, you know, a mixture of European and Aboriginal blood. So it really makes me who I am emotionally, mentally and also very much physically”.
“The 26th is the start of something terrible”, they say, “but it’s also a day of resistance”.
“My great-great-grandmother was at the very first invasion day protest on the 26th of January 1938. She was not Aboriginal, she was a European woman. And so both my Aboriginal bloodlines who were on the missions at that point, and being stolen and my European bloodlines have been holding strong on this day for nearly a century now”.
“And so, for me, it’s about continuing that legacy of all of my bloodlines coming together, being proud of all of my ancestors, for how they have fought for justice, and how they have allowed me to live the life that I lead today”.
Both the Aboriginal flag and the Palestinian flag were waved during the marches, with protestors chanting the famous slogans “Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land”, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” and “No pride in genocide”. The march blocked several roads around Parliament House, where Members of Parliament had gathered to celebrate the day.
The march then led to the entrance of Parliament House, where for the first time in three years, protestors staged a sit-in in opposition to the celebration of the 26th. Standing before Parliament and a line of police officers, speakers wholeheartedly criticised the Australian government’s treatment of Indigenous communities and its support for the Israeli government.
The invasion day rallies this year stood as a reminder of the prolonged consequences of colonialism in Australia and globally, but more importantly, the responsibility settlers have to pay the rent to the Indigenous peoples of Australia, the traditional custodians of this land.
This land always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
The name Woroni, which means “mouthpiece” was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission; consultation with First Nations people suggested that Woroni continue to use the word, provided it acknowledged the theft, and strove to do better in the future.
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We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.