7 days of resistance

!!Calendar of events!! Hope you all get some rest this week coz starting next weekend there’s a whole bunch of stuff to get along to!

#7DaysOfResistance kicks off Saturday 20th.
Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance – WAR will host a series of events during the lead up to the Invasion day rallies.

Indigenous freedom fighters Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration. Sat 20th, 12-2. At the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner monument.

First Nations pride, decolonising sex and gender, hosted by Incinerator Gallery and Midsumma Festival
Sat 20th, 2-3:30, Moonee Ponds

Climate Justice: A First Nations Guide to Resisting the Anthropo, hosted by Koorie Heritage Trust Inc, @NGV, Sat 20th, 6:30-7:30. Tickets sold out, but the event is being recorded.

Decolonise now! multi genre benefit gig hosted by Allies decolonising. Sat 20th, 6-11. Richmond

A Black GST special with Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance – WARRobert ThorpeMarjorie Thorpe & Clare Land. Sun 21st, 4-6. Melb museum.

**Banner, placard and flower making prep for Invasion day rally:
Sat 20th, 12-4. Glenroy https://www.facebook.com/events/219524018592198/
Sun 21st, 12-5. Brunswick
Sun 21st, 12-9. Collingwood

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Sun 27th: “We Survived”

This event is a gathering together of many First Nations artists based on Kulin Lands in Naarm who continue to display the strength and beauty of our peoples @ the Toff in Town, 5pm.




invasion day + australian nationalism… a few bits and pieces

 Solidarity is a word that we must become better acquainted with as we enter a period of entrenched far-right ideology within our political and other institutions. However, as we hurtle toward Australia Day this January 26, solidarity remains an elusive strategy that is only haphazardly being pieced together by forward-thinking individuals.

Eugenia Flynn

Solidarity must be a formulated strategy that those of the left develop and implement, if we are to avoid being conquered through our division. Unfortunately, this Australia Day the left has missed a very public opportunity to demonstrate solidarity between the two groups that are currently most maligned by the far-right: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Muslim communities.

Whilst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always been oppressed by White Australia, in our post-911 world, Muslims have also become increasingly ‘othered’ and feared by the nation, and indeed much of the Western world.

Australia Day has increasingly become a lightning rod for patriotism and so January 26 is not only a date by which to mark the invasion and subsequent subjugation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also for chest-thumping patriarchal racist nationalism.

It is with the goal of nationalism that the Victorian Government and outdoor media company QMS put up a billboard with a scrolling set of images to advertise Australia Day events. It is with a misguided sense of rejecting xenophobic nationalism that the inclusion of people from ‘various cultural backgrounds’ was undertaken, including an image depicting two young girls in hijab with the Australian flag. Displayed in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, the billboards sent the far-right into frenzy with QMS allegedly receiving threats and complaints of such a serious nature that they subsequently pulled the billboard.

Campaign launches to restore the Australia Day hijab billboard
A campaign to return the image of two girls wearing hijabs to billboards launched on Wednesday morning, but not all Muslim community members are supportive.

That the far-right bullied their way to getting the billboard removed is a horrific injustice and the innocence of the featured girls should not be called in to question. However, the subsequent campaign by Advertising Creative Director Dee Madigan, who in consultation with Muslim leaders took it upon herself to #PutThemBackUp, is an affront to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who view Australia Day as celebrating invasion and genocide.

Nationalism by any other name – Aussie spirit, celebrating Australia – is still nationalism and Australia Day is still part of the kind of nationalism that seeks to exclude non-Whites. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know this inherently. We know that changing the date will lessen the hurt of commemorating invasion, but will still allow for the exercise of chest-thumping nationalism to continue. We know that an image of two young girls in hijab, smiling with the Australian flag, is not meant to cause intentional offense, but symbolises the indoctrination of new migrants in to the national project.

In this way, these kinds of celebrations of diversity are a futile exercise when they continue to endorse the kind of Australia that thinks celebrating the date of invasion is okay. Meat and Livestock Australia’s annual Australia Day lamb ad is a perfect example of this kind of cognitive dissonance.

The new lamb ad gets a “D” for effort, not for diversity
The latest Meat and Livestock Association’s (MLA) annual Australia Day ad is out. It’s the first not to mention ‘Australia Day’, but it doesn’t need to. It features a “beach party” scene imitating all textbook illustrations of the arrival of European colonization.

Whilst the ad may make no mention of Australia Day this year, it is still an Australia Day ad for all intents and purposes and it shockingly whitewashes what happened at the point of invasion.

If there is one take away lesson from all of this, it is that perhaps real inclusion should not be sold to us through marketing campaigns. If this kind of multiculturalism reinforces the institution of nationalism, surely billboards and lamb ads reinforce the tools of capitalism. As artist and academic Tania Cañas writes, “Diversity is restricted to aesthetic presentation, rather than a meaningful, committed, resourced, long-term process of shifting existing power-dynamics.” Billboard campaigns and lamb ads show us the aesthetic presentation of multiculturalism whilst simultaneously reinforcing Australia’s existing power structures.

Indigenous art collective hits back at lamb ad with satire
Cope ST Collective have released a video response to the annual lamb ad from Meat and Livestock Australia, as a way to create awareness and support the ‘change the date’ movement.

The #PutThemBackUp initiative featured a crowdfunding campaign to fund a host of media and billboard advertisements featuring the young girls. In mere hours, the crowdfunder had reached its goal of $50,000 and people flocked to the campaign to show their support for the girls in a way that sits in stark contrast to many crowdfunders for Indigenous causes.

An Austrarlia Day protes on January 26, 2006

An Austrarlia Day protest on January 26, 2006

Of course, it is counterproductive to create a competition for resources in the struggle for social justice, but #PutThemBackUp has unintentionally exposed the contradictions of mostly-white progressive liberals; those who consistently support causes such as the Recognise campaign that reinforce the very systems that privilege them. Ultimately, whilst the young girls and their family should feel bolstered that they have the support of thousands of Australians, this individual support will never change the kind of Australia that will undoubtedly alienate them in the future. The popularity of Australia’s refugee policy, the re-rise of Pauline Hanson, the Liberal Government’s re-election in 2016 all indicate that Islamophobia will march on in this country, all to the beat of the drums of nationalism.

With support for #PutThemBackUp swift and extensive, campaign organisers extended the goal to $100,000 and now to $200,000. In all of this, a growing disquiet not only amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also amongst Muslim communities began to be heard. A Facebook page Muslims Say No To Australia Day – Invasion Day – Billboard was started and its initial post in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was shared widely across social media.

Muslim comedian Aamer Rahman posted against the nationalism represented in the billboards as did Arrente social commentator and writer Celeste Liddle. In a move that can only be described as an afterthought, the campaign was not updated but it was communicated through Islamophobia Register Australia founder Mariam Veiszadeh (who has been involved in the campaign since the beginning) that the new billboards and advertisements would “deliberately not reference January 26”. As a further afterthought, leftover funds were originally to be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, but three days after campaigning began the ASRC asked for funds to be donated to Aboriginal organisations IndigenousX and Children’s Ground.


That Dee Madigan herself has not publicly acknowledged Indigenous affront to Australia Day is very telling. To this end, the only acknowledgement she has made to Indigenous opinion on the issue is to retweet support for a Facebook post by Indigenous playwright and actor Nakkiah Lui in which Lui states that seeing a young Muslim woman holding the Australian flag “changes what the Australian flag is for me”. Mariam Veiszadeh also shared Lui’s post as an indication of widespread Indigenous support for the campaign, yet neither Madigan nor Veiszadeh had the inclination to donate leftover funds to Aboriginal organisations – that sense of goodwill and understanding was left to Kon Karapanagiotidis from the ASRC.

Now the revised billboards are starting to be put up and print media ads have also started. To say that the new billboards are more offensive than the original is an understatement, with ‘Happy Australia Day’ emblazoned across the image of the two young women. Whilst the promises made through Veiszadeh were not straight lies, as technically the billboards do “not reference January 26”, many advocates for Indigenous rights feel betrayed by the sleight of hand, jarred at the sight of Australia Day so fervently celebrated.

Is this kind of offense the result that Muslim and Indigenous leaders wanted when they endorsed the campaign? I sincerely doubt this was their intention, but nonetheless this campaign, that will now be seen nationally (the billboard was originally only ever intended for Victoria, but Madigan has taken the revised ads national), promotes a brand of nationalist ideology that does not help Muslims as much as it does not help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most certainly, this media campaign does nothing to promote solidarity between the two groups, who now, more than ever, need to unite in the fight against far-right ideology. This is why the work of groups like RISE Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees is so important in understanding the way that Australian racism works to deny Indigenous sovereignty and promote the closure of borders to non-White people.

Ultimately, it is the very same racism that has been used as justification for the invasion and oppression of Indigenous people that is now used as a template for Islamophobia in this country. You cannot separate the work for Indigenous rights from anti-Islamophobia organising as Islamophobia will never end whilst we continue to maintain the oppression of Indigenous peoples. In order to achieve the realisation of Indigenous rights as well as in the fight against Islamophobia, we must recognise that the goals are linked and work in solidarity together.

Comment: Changing the date won’t fix ‘Australia Day’

  • Hundreds of protesters marching against the celebration of Australia day and for indigenous rights broke through a barrier to interrupt the official Australia Day parade in Melbourne on January 26, 2015. (New Zulu)
Celeste Liddle: Until a treaty is negotiated, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will keep mourning in the country of the ‘fair go’.
Celeste Liddle

When I was a student at university doing my undergraduate degree, I worked in retail to support myself. While the job itself was perfect for a uni student trying to work shifts around classes and coursework, every single year when November rolled around, I would start to dread going into work. With the Christmas panic shoppers and the endless carols about snow being played over the sound system when it was 35 degrees outside, every shift brought a new kind of hell. Even now, the scars of working in retail during a Christmas lead-up run so deep that I am known to avoid all shopping centres, supermarkets and chain stores for the duration.

Back then though, it was safe for me to venture out in public and finally grab some groceries come January. Yet as the years rolled on, January started to become a no-go zone for these places as well. You see, back when I left retail in 2002, Australia Day was barely a blip on the national calendar. Certainly, the only thing I associated it with were protests in the Aboriginal community. Just last year, I was incredibly pleased to see Invasion Day protesters in Melbourne interrupting the government-sanctioned Australia Day parade. Yet compared to 14 years ago, you can’t now walk into a supermarket without being confronted by a range of products emblazoned with the Australian flag. You cannot turn on the TV without some bloke barking at you to buy lamb. You cannot go to beach without seeing a group of flag caped-crusaders drinking beer.

Protesters from the far right anti-Islam group Reclaim Australia rally in Brisbane, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. It is part of a national day of anti-Islam protests being held across the country. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Protesters from the far right anti-Islam group Reclaim Australia rally in Brisbane, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015.

This reinforcement of Australia Day as a day of jingoistic pride was, in my view, a product of the Howard years. In his time as Prime Minister, John Howard would frequently reiterate need to show pride in this country while labelling the attempts by Indigenous activists and historians to bring the true nature of colonisation to the public’s attention as being “black armband” views – just focussed on negatives.

It is additionally a hangover from an event nobody in this country should be proud of: the Cronulla Riots.

White Australians donned flags as well as slogans like “we grew here, you flew here” in a show of hostility against Middle Eastern migrant communities. That the reinforcement of “pride” has become a national norm ten years after these riots is incredibly disturbing. That groups such as Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots’ Front are now deemed so acceptable by our country that they are framed as “ordinary mums and dads” is, frankly, terrifying.

As an Arrernte woman though, I’ve digressed. To return to an earlier point, Australia Day has always been Invasion Day to me. It was the day where, as a kid growing up in Canberra, I was most likely to see people calling for land rights.

Indeed, back then the entire concept of “Australia Day” seemed to be on the nose.

The Aboriginal rights movement and talks of a treaty continued to gain momentum and we were mere years away from the Mabo ruling. That Terra Nullius, or ‘land belonging to no one’ was it was declared back in 1770 by the Captain Cook, was found to be a legal fiction in the High Court in 1993 but we still don’t have a treaty should be a national shame. Yet this remains unfinished business and every year, on the 26th of January, Indigenous people are expected to buy into the celebration of this fallacy without complaint.

As a person who takes a strong stance in favour of the negotiation of a treaty, I therefore tend to not be too supportive of the calls of many Aboriginal people and our allies to change the date of Australia Day so it doesn’t commemorate the invasion. In my reckoning, until there is a treaty there will be no other date to celebrate the birth of this nation on. And to be honest, I’ve never really understood why non-Indigenous Australia wouldn’t want the opportunity to start afresh. The 26th of January also commemorates the day some of the poorest and most desperate citizens of Great Britain were dumped on the shore of a land halfway across the world to undertake years of cruel labour as punishment for stealing loaves of bread. The opportunity to commemorate the day we come to the table, as equals, and negotiate the way this country moves forward, would indeed make me proud of this country and our ability to work toward a better future. Until then, I much prefer the idea of Invasion Day remaining a day of Indigenous protest and the assertion of sovereignty.

The answer is also not for white Australia to include more Aboriginal people in Australia Day events. It’s not to get more Aboriginal people to sing the National Anthem in public. It’s not to include a welcome to country ceremony before ignoring what this ceremony means. It’s not to misappropriate our iconography as a way of selling your meat. Doing all this merely erases our history and assimilates our identity.

The answer is for people to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and find out why so many of us do not consider this a day of celebration.

It’s to come to our events on our terms – lend yourself and your banner-making skills to an Invasion Day protest; see our bands; talk to our elders. Mostly though, it’s to challenge yourself to stop reiterating the mistruths this country was built upon and commit to a better and more equitable future.

I have always been optimistic that in a country which prides itself on the notion of a “fair go for all”, all that I mention is not an impossible dream. I think we owe it to the future generations. But until some hard conversations are held and people start listening, it will unfortunately remain something I am unlikely to witness in my lifetime. And that truly is a reason to mourn.

Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte woman living in Melbourne. She is the current National Indigenous Organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and blogs at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist.