Each year on “Australia Day”, my wife and I visit the location of local Aboriginal midden grounds and pay our respects to the original people who lived on the land that we now live on. In 2009 I wrote the following piece for us to read each and every year until this country acknowledges and begins to respect its Aboriginal people and its Aboriginal past. Health permitting I intend to keep reading this out loud under the figs, next to the mangroves (in the park) every 26th of January, or at least until a more appropriate date for Australia Day is chosen.
“Paying Our Respects – 26th January 2013″
Today we remember our Indigenous brothers and sisters who have been murdered, beaten, raped, diseased, displaced, ignored and forgotten for 225 years.
We remember that they met here peacefully on this midden mound whose name we no longer know.
We remember that here they rested, discussed and resolved problems that the different clans of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) encountered for thousands of years.
We remember that we are standing on land which they believed could not be owned by any one person but only looked after by the clan / their people – i.e. entrusted in guardianship for all time.
We remember that people belonged to the land but that the land did not belong to all people.
We remember that as a many Nationed peoples, they were invaded and the land was never lawfully settled by the non-Indigenous peoples, as no treaties were ever signed with the original inhabitants, as no attempts were made to protect the original languages and culture, and that the original people’s presence was never acknowledged in any meaningful way.
Today we remember that choosing this day as the national day of the country is an insult to the surviving Indigenous Australians and disrespects the Indigenous people who died and suffered over the last 225 years. We look forward to a time when this county’s national day is inclusive of all Australians, when its flag represents all Australians and its Head Of State is answerable only to Australians.
Yet again we had the whole park to ourselves as we read this out loud and reflected on the day. None of the current locals care to remember that the park is the burial ground of the Indigenous people’s sea shell middens.
Regards – Vasilios Theodorakis – January 2013