ANZAC Day and Australia Day are the two most important dates when it comes to speaking up about Aboriginal rights.
The discussions could be held on any day throughout the year but it seems that it’s only on these two days when people actually stop and engage with what we are saying. The phrase “Get Over It” is past it’s used by date and it’s time to stop and listen to the issues at hand.
Returned Indigenous Servicemen
In case you didn’t know already there has been a big push in recent years to put a spotlight on Returned Indigenous Servicemen. At ANZAC services around Australia, the spotlight was put on these servicemen because for years they were forgotten and left out of the picture because of Australia’s widespread prejudice towards Aboriginal people.
Many Australians still don’t understand the need for this and claim that there was no discrimination of colour on the battle ground. But there was discrimination once they returned and each year this was rubbed in their faces on the one day when they were supposed to reflect on their time and those who lost their lives.
Remembering the Frontier Wars
Since 1952, the decision was made that the Australian War Memorial would be a place to remember all Australian wars. Even though evidence of large scale frontier wars are well documented in Australia, these wars are still ignored by those in power at the War Memorial and by the Returned Servicemen’s League who continue to exclude a group of silent Frontier War remembrance marchers who attend and get excluded from the National ANZAC Day parade each year.
The discussions you see online, the frontier war banners (pictured above) are all a form of protest. We are calling out the injustices that occurred which directly relate to the inequality that exists today. Not sure what we’re talking about? take a look below.
- Land Theft/Exploitation
- Stolen Wages
- Restrictions on movement
- Stolen Generations
- Exclusion from land grants for returned servicemen
- Exclusion from obtaining economic freedom
All of these injustices and many more had direct impacts on returned Indigenous servicemen and all Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islanders in Australia.
Is it wrong to be talking about this on ANZAC Day?
It would be disrespectful not to since ANZAC Day was the day when all of these realities were rubbed in the faces of all returned Indigenous servicemen and for the families of those who never returned. As long as the Frontier wars continue to be excluded and ignored, the memory of those who paid the ultimate price defending our lands is being disrespected too. Many of them still lie in unmarked graves all across the country today, often without any recognition of the massacres and battles that took place.
Obviously this situation is not ideal but it will continue until the rest of Australia hears what is being said and steps are made to start addressing the inequalities. I wonder just how many Indigenous groups get support from RSL clubs around Australia. I got a feeling there aren’t many at all.
The protests you see on Australia Day are also about educating the nation and addressing these inequalities. It is not simply about changing the date it is about changing the future for everyone in Australia. A future based on understanding and respect.
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