Members statement: Invasion Day March
On 26 January this year I joined with our First Nations community and thousands of Victorians who marched the streets of Melbourne to mark Invasion Day. It is a day that represents pain and suffering for the First Peoples of this land, who were dispossessed of their country by colonisation. It is a day that began over 200 years of systematic oppression and discrimination. Untold devastation and loss was experienced through the frontier wars. It is a history that our country has not reconciled, it is a history that is barely acknowledged, and it is time to tell the truth.
On this Invasion Day the crowds that stretched from Spring Street to Bourke Street and beyond were demanding, asking for and pleading for truth, justice and reconciliation. The ask from our First Nations was a call to pay the rent. This movement has grown across our country, especially over the last few years, and there is no doubt that the conversation is changing. For decades First Nations have been working tirelessly for this history to be heard. Through grassroots consultations, many local councils have joined with them in solidarity, refusing to celebrate our national day on such an inappropriate date. A national debate has raged since, and many Australians have changed their views. They have come to understand and accept that if we do not tell the truth, if we do not acknowledge the suffering of dispossession and colonisation, we cannot heal. I hope that our leaders can learn to open their hearts and minds to this truth too. We cannot bridge the gap between our First Nations and the rest of the community if we do not.