As you will be well aware, celebrating Australia Day on the 26th January causes our Aboriginal community much distress. Our Aboriginal community and our Aboriginal staff tell us of the difficulty of celebrating a day that has a direct correlation to the loss of culture, massacres and the impacts of colonisation. Many Aboriginal people refer to the date as Survival Day or as National Day of Mourning.
As an organisation that’s purpose is to ‘address inequity – build healthy, inclusive and just communities’ it’s incumbent of Banyule Community Health to not only hear this, but respond in solidarity with our First Nations community. Banyule Community Health proudly join with our Aboriginal staff, our Aboriginal community and Aboriginal leaders across Australia in the call for the need to change the date and find a day that all Australians can celebrate the history and diversity of this country, particularly those with a 60,000 year connection.
In 2021, I’m proud to announce that as a result of feedback from our community and staff, Banyule Community Health will be establishing a Reconciliation Action Plan. This exciting process will engage staff, partners and community to build a structured process to advance reconciliation. Karen Milward, a Yorta Yorta woman based in Melbourne, will facilitate the process. Karen has worked closely with Banyule Community Health for many years and is highly regarded in her work in creating culturally safe organisations and building Aboriginal control. We are lucky to have her on the journey.
In a recent chat with Jamie Baxter, our longest serving Banyule Community Health Aboriginal staff member, she reminded me of how proud she is of Australia and its diversity. She said to me, “We want to celebrate Australia with our mob and all Australians. We just can’t do it on the 26th January – it’s a painful day for us.”
It’s time to change the date.
Chief Executive Officer
Banyule Community Health