Change The Date

UMSU stands with the Indigenous community in calling for the change of the date of Australia Day. The history of dispossession and oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which the date 26th of January represents, means that rather than a day of celebration, our national holiday has become a day of mourning for this nation’s First peoples.

In the words of Ethan Taylor, Melbourne University Student & President of the Union of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students:

“January 26 is not something to celebrate. This date represents the beginning of the genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; more than 200 years of violence and oppression; and contemporary disadvantages that Indigenous Australians face. As such, for me and for my family, this day is a day of mourning, loss, and remembrance.

With the arrival of the First Fleet on January 26 came state sanctioned violence, confiscation of culture, abolition of rights to land, and the removal of children. The events that began on January 26 have brought about terrible suffering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as well as trauma that continues to this day. This date will forever hold with it our tears, our cries, and our pain.

Over the last 230 years, the stolen generation, segregation, enslavement and government violence have cultivated the disadvantages my generation faces today. January 26 is now also representative of the gap in life expectancy, infant and maternal health, institutional racism, the lower University retention and graduation rates, the third world state of our remote communities.

When we show resistance to January 26 and celebrations that are held on this day, we’re not just fighting to change a national holiday: we’re fighting for our lives. We are fighting for our chance to live free and equal in this country. We are fighting to bring closure to the traumas of colonisation and put an end to a dark chapter in Indigenous history

When we fight against January 26, we are fighting for the right to lead lives that filled with happiness, cultural, economic and social liberty, and equal opportunity. Stand with us in solidarity and support this campaign.”

UMSU recognises the ongoing struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who continue to suffer the effects of racism, oppression and dispossession that exists in our history. This land that we live, work and learn on is stolen land, and always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

In fighting to change the date, we implore University of Melbourne students to come join us at the 2018 Invasion Day Protest from 11am on the steps of Parliament House.

More details for the protest here

Desiree Cai
UMSU President