Oxfam calls for commemoration not celebration on January 26

Oxfam Australia has called for the federal government to follow the lead of many local and state governments to shift towards commemorating rather than celebrating January 26.

With Australia’s First Peoples continuing to deal with the consequences of colonisation, Oxfam’s Acting Chief Executive Anthea Spinks said it was pleasing to see the leadership shown by many in the private and public sectors respecting employees’ wishes to work on the day.

“In a particularly significant year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, indeed for the entire Australian community, it’s important to start with the recognition that this is a Day of Mourning.

“It is encouraging to see innovative ways that First Peoples and non-Indigenous individuals and organisations are moving away from this date, and in turn this has sparked an important national conversation about Australia’s history.

Ms Spinks said it was now up to the federal government to make the call to shift the entire community’s attitude to the day.

“These discussions are long overdue, as is meaningful action to close the gap in health outcomes and the outrageous child removal and incarceration rates for our First Peoples.

Oxfam is fully supportive of its partners and local communities across Australia who see 26 January as marking the beginning of British colonial settlement in Australia, which was conducted without a treaty or any recognition of First Peoples’ rights or prior land ownership.

“We strongly believe that our nation will be at its strongest once we have implemented all the calls made in the Uluru Statement From The Heart.”

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