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The 26 January is not a day of celebration for us.  

It is a day of grief and deep mourning for our First Peoples. Invasion Day. Survival Day. Day of Mourning.

At the beginning of each year at Children’s Ground we come together to look at First Nations history and truth. We look deeply at the story of our families and ancestors and First Nations people across Australia. It is painful and sad. We do this to understand where we have come from. To understand the strength of our people and the pain and trauma they suffered. To understand why things are so serious for us today. Then we talk about how we are going to change this through Children’s Ground.  How we must fight hard to hold on to our language and culture. How we heal. How we give our next generations a new chance. 

“My grandfather was killed at the Coniston Massacre,” shared Children’s Ground Senior cultural educator and traditional healer Marita McMillan.  “Children, mothers and fathers were killed. All the family. Anmatyerre and Walpiri. My grandfather was sitting there singing and the bullets just kept going past.” she said.  

The Coniston Massacre took place in Central Australia between 14 August to 18 October 1928. It was the last known officially sanctioned massacre of First Peoples in Australia. A massacre by the police.

On January 26 we want people to reflect on what this date means for us; a day in Australia’s history when our First Nations people lost the right to live with freedom. When we started living in fear in our own lands. We lost everything.  

For all of our people across Australia, there was invasion, rape and murder and violence. The stealing of land and children. The destruction of language and cultures.  

It is so painful. And it is still happening today. Our people are being locked up, too many kids are in welfare, our families are struggling and our young people are lost.  

We must act now. All of us together can make this change. The truth is that if we don’t, our families, our children and our cultures and languages will keep dying.

At Children’s Ground we are fighting for an end to these injustices. We are building a new beginning, a new system, run by us. We can not wait. We have hope, we know the strength in our people. We want people to listen, learn and support our solutions and our voice. To support us so that our children can be free, safe and enjoy their lives. 

We thank all of of you who stand with us and support us to make this possible.  

About the author

Felicity Hayes and Veronica Turner
— Posted on 25 Jan 2024