BATHURST Wiradyuri elder Uncle Yanhadarrambal (Jade Flynn) is encouraging people to mark January 26 in a way that feels right to them.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
As people come together to celebrate Australia Day, Uncle Yanhadarrambal will be treating the public holiday as a day of mourning.
"In January 1938, well before Australia Day was commissioned, there was a thing called a Day of Mourning and it was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world," he said.
"It was about a group of Aboriginal people coming together, they were called the Aborigines Progressive Association and there was also another group called the Aborigines Advancement League, and they came together and staged a big protest in Sydney.
"That was on January 26, 1938 and they were talking about things like better housing, better health outcomes and better education outcomes for Aboriginal people, and not much has changed.
"... We're still talking about better housing, we're still talking about better health outcomes and we're still talking about better education outcomes for Aboriginal people and that gap that is still there, so I will be reflecting on the Day of Mourning."
However, he said the way people perceive January 26 is a personal choice.
Even among Aboriginal people, perspectives vary.
"It's a very individual thing for different Aboriginal families and different groups," Uncle Yanhadarrambal said.
"There are a lot of Aboriginal people in Australia that will be celebrating and they've got their reasons for doing that - and I fully commend them for participating, there is no issue there, but there is also a lot of Aboriginal people who will be commemorating that Day of Mourning and they'll reflect on where we're at as a nation and where we're at as Aboriginal people.
"The sad fact is that Australia's got a long way to go to come to that reconciliation that a lot of people talk about with Aboriginal people."
He encouraged people to take a moment on Australia Day to reflect on the past and respect the different views people have on the date.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.