When I agreed to share my thoughts and personal experiences about  January 26, of so-called 'Australia Day', I knew I’d find  it tricky.

I was right. What I didn't anticipate was just how challenging it would be.

This time of year, I mainly try to avoid thinking about the date, what it represents, and the impact it has on me and the many people I love. I do my utmost to avoid getting caught in conversations pertaining to January 26. I steer clear of socials. And more recently, I will confess, I haven't read about what others have to say. I only became aware of my avoidance when I began to put my fingers on the keyboard.  

In my experience, confronting your fears is the only way to diminish their power over you. So that's what I'm doing. I am no longer avoiding. 

When I think about this date and what it represents, my body temperature rises. My breath becomes shallow. I can feel a burning in my belly. I want to scream, but am unable to find my voice. Without even speaking, I already feel silenced. I have no words. Almost simultaneously, I feel defeated and ashamed. Then comes the grief. That's what I am avoiding. The shame. The grief. 

I am a descendant of the Wiradjuri people, a nation of people who are woven together by three rivers in central New South Wales. I am also a descendant of Colonisers. I am a Mother. I am an Auntie and I am fearful for what it means to future generations that we live in a country so lacking in empathy and concern for one another that insist on celebrating a day that marks the anniversary of genocide, loss of language, loss of culture, loss of land and loss of sacred knowledge on how to care for that land.

Colonisation is not just something that occurred in the past, it continues today. It’s steadfast in its approach, and its consequences affect each and every one of us. I struggle to see how we as a nation can make any real headway towards closing the gap around urgent national issues such as deaths in custody, the over-representation of First Nation peoples in custody, suicide rates, and displaced children, while the system continues to perpetuate the legacies of colonialism.  

January 26th doesn’t just mark a day in the past. It’s a statement that the nation consents to the continuation of colonisation.