For some Australians, the national day has a dark side. Spare a thought for what Indigenous Australians might be thinking on 26 January.
An alphabetical guide to Australian history on Australia Day 2008
A. A is for Aborigines, the only Australians before 1788.
B. Britain, the country which invaded Aboriginal Australia.
C. Confinement of indigenous people to Reserves and Missions .
D. Dispossession: Aborigines` land taken to make way for sheep.
E. Elders experience loss of respect and authority in communities.
F. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: health tragedy affecting generations as many Aboriginal women try to ban grog.
G. ‘Genocide’ claimed as Aborigines killed by guns and European diseases.
H. Health care inadequate: life expectancy 18 years less despite AMA appeals for funds.
I. Invasion. 26 January is Invasion Day to many Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians.
J. Jailing: The current rate is 11 times more than white Australians while the Deaths in Custody report gathers dust, 20 years on.
K. Kinships were broken asunder by authorities and “Protectors”.
L. Land rights were won after bitter battles spread over 200 years.
M. Massacres occurred in every State. When will monuments be erected?
N. Native Title. Some gains: Mabo ,Wik, Wave Hill, and Uluru. But the fight for justice goes on.
O. Oppression – Segregation – Denigration was the lot of so many voiceless victims.
P. Petrol sniffing by bored children in dysfunctional communities.
Q. Question all written history. “Terra nullius” was a legal falsehood which lasted two centuries.
R. Respect, Restoration and Revival are the building blocks of Reconciliation.
S. Stolen children and Stolen wages. Compensation still awaited.
T. Transgenerational traumas are denying Aboriginal families prospects and hope.
U. Unemployment is high among Aborigines. No jobs. No self-worth. No pursuit of happiness.
V. Values, especially traditional ones like care-for-country, are diminished when opportunities are denied.
W. White Australian prejudices prevail when Aboriginal leaders are not consulted.
X. Refers to the unknown number of indigenous people killed over two centuries, by guns, European diseases, neglect and indifference.
Y. Yagan – Aboriginal leader, shot by a white boy, had his head cut off and sent to London as a trophy.
Z. Zero, O. The number of Aborigines who are Members of the Australian Parliament.
May this simple 26 point guide be helpful to those exploring the dark side of our nation`s history on Australia Day.