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McQuire, Amy: If your child asks why Australia is celebrating a day of invasion, what will you tell them?

Amy McQuire

If your child asks why Australia is celebrating a day of invasion, what will you tell them?‘, Guardian Australia, 26 January 2021

First Nations children are silenced even though the most brutal acts of colonisation were perpetrated and continue to be perpetrated against them. The attempted destruction of Aboriginal families and communities was central to the settler-colonial project, and those who were most victimised, who suffered the most hurt, were black children. These past policies directly aimed at destroying Indigenous families and removing black presence from stolen land did not disappear, but instead took on new forms, evident in the justice, child protection and health systems.

Not all Indigenous children have experiences of detention or child removal, but they all share an inheritance of this trauma, and they all experience the violence of the education system, where they are taught a false history about this land.

Looks at efforts being made to rectify this, to end the silence on the violence of colonisation, to overcome the lies that have been told.

[T]hese lies had a purpose. That purpose was to secure white supremacy in this land, and to erase black presence and black resistance. Our children are asked to participate in a system that is still predicated on what Associate Professor Chelsea Watego has called the “myth of the dying race”.

First Nations children, ‘[b]y their very presence on what is stolen black land, … offer up a counter-narrative to the mythology of Australian history that was about removing us from this land; displacing us to make way for a white settler-colony’.

McQuire has published a book, Day Break, to counter settler Australian amnesia. (Review note.) ‘Australia Day is at its heart about amnesia. Every 26 January, Australia tells us to forget and to move on or be co-opted or assimilated into “celebrations”. We wanted to contrast Australian displays of amnesia with Aboriginal ways of remembering.’

Amy McQuire is a Darumbal and South Sea Islander journalist. She is currently studying a postgraduate degree at the University of Queensland. For other articles by her, use our Search engine, but note this particularly on the Australia Day issue.

A book on growing up Aboriginal in Australia, including a review by David Stephens: ‘We accepted – when we asked our parents ‘what happened to all the Aborigines?’ – the answer that ‘they died out’.’