THE Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation has chosen not to participate in Australia Day ceremonies this January 26 as the push behind the call to change the date of the national day gains traction.
The Victorian corporation politely declined Hepburn Shire Council’s request to take part in the celebrations earlier this week.
Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation, Rodney Carter, said the Dja Dja Wurrung were a strong, vibrant and resilient peoples who understood the importance of celebrating patriotism but that it was time for the nation to come together with a national day that is inclusive of all histories.
“For us, our recent history is a celebration of our survival and the achievements we have made through our Recognition and Settlement Agreement and partnership with the State of Victoria,” he said.
“The history of our people and the past effects upon our ancestors when new-comers came to our country was largely a violent and traumatic period. The past intrusions are somewhat yet to be better understood and accepted by others and it is part of our vision that future generations will come to know of the truth in our shared history.”
Mr Carter said he hoped the day could become one that celebrated a collective Australian identity shared and owned by all.
“We would believe that all of our children and those not yet born deserve the honesty by us all as it will stand any test as to our maturity as a collective caring community,” he said.
“The Dja Dja Wurrung now and into the future will continue to be a strong, constructive and respectful voice of the advocacy for our people’s proper place in community matters. We hope increasingly others will share this vision with us, so that one day we could lead the celebration of this land as our home.”
Council adopted a Reconciliation Action Plan, drawn up in consultation with the Dja Dja Wurrung, in 2018.
It has been working closely with the corporation through a community reference group to promote dialogue about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories across the shire.
We hope increasingly others will share this vision with us, so that one day we could lead the celebration of this land as our home.Rodney Carter
Chief Executive Officer of Hepburn Shire Council, Evan King, said the council valued the positive relationship that was being built with the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation.
“Our discussions together are across many areas of interest, including listening to traditional owner views, emotions and hopes for January 26th. Council is committed to listening to the views around Australia Day of all parts of our community,” he said.
Hepburn Shire is a significant place for the Dja Dja Wurrung, as it is where first contact occurred and many lives were lost in the battle for the land, before many were forced to take refuge at the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station built by Edward Stone Parker at Franklinford in 1841.
Protectorate sites were a means to teach Aboriginals how to live ‘civilised’ lives.
The council said it would continue to focus on community forums and sharing information about locally and nationally historic topics throughout 2019.
Mr King said celebrations on Australia Day would involve an acknowledgement of country and both the national Australian and Indigenous flag had been provided to civic and community events.