26 January - Our CEO's statement - Annecto

26 January – Our CEO’s statement

An orange waved background with a purple circle reading "Our CEO's statement for 26 January" with a photo of Annecto's CEO and a megaphone graphic

A message from Cheryl De Zilwa, CEO of Annecto. 

26 January, Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day, is almost here.

As some get ready to celebrate our country’s national day, some will also gather to mourn the 1788 invasion of our nation or recognise and celebrate the survival of Australia’s First Peoples since colonisation two hundred and thirty-five years ago.

With such division surrounding 26 January, the lead-up to this date can be extremely tough for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For them, this time of year is synonymous with hateful attitudes, stereotypes and inaccurate information.

These words, comments and statements, made by media commentators and everyday Australians on social media, continue to compound the trauma Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have experienced since first contact.

While these types of comments are almost everyday occurrences, it is around 26 January they are heightened.

As a result, 26 January can take a heavy toll on the emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which sees some community members remove themselves from the public gaze around this time while others stand strong.

Thursday 26 January 2023 will mark the two hundred and thirty-fifth anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet. However, this date also symbolises the beginning of genocide, invasion and survival for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Some Aboriginal community members try to heal the deep wound by participating in Australia Day celebrations, while many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples recognise 26 January as a Day of Mourning, Invasion Day or Survival Day.

The division about this date is not new. On 26 January 1938, when Australia was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the British tall ships, Aboriginal peoples held the first Day of Mourning in Sydney at the Australian Hall in the Cyprus Hellene Club on Elizabeth Street. Attended by prominent Aboriginal leaders of the day, the Day of Mourning highlighted the exclusion of Aboriginal people from the Australian nation.

In the spirit of healing, Annecto celebrates the rich contribution individuals and groups bring to the Australian community and embraces the diversity of its staff, the people it supports and its partners.

At Annecto, we are fortunate to work with and have relationships with some Aboriginal peoples, including specific partnerships with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC), Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group and the Children of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home (CBACH). We are also currently building relationships with Victorian Aboriginal organisations such as Connecting Home, a service for the Stolen Generations, and the Aboriginal Advancement League.

Annecto honours our partners, staff and the people we support who identify as Australia’s First Peoples.

While we recognise that a range of perspectives is held on Australia Day/Invasion Day/Survival Day, we acknowledge and pay our respects to Australia’s First Peoples and those who mourn their ancestors and/or celebrate survival as a result of the first wave of European arrival.

We are privileged to live in a beautiful country with an ancient history and culture going back to the dawn of time. We hope that on this day, you may join in commemorating our deep and rich history and committing to the inclusion of and healing for all Australians. #LestWeForget

Annecto will be participating in the following Invasion Day/Survival Day/Day of Mourning events:

  • Sharing a stall with Connecting Home, a service for the Stolen Generations, at the 20th anniversary of the Share the Spirit Festival on 26 January 2023.
    Held at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl in Naarm (Melbourne), the Share the Spirit Festival is a free event, from 12pm to 8pm, and will be headlined by the deadly musician Dan Sultan.

  • Hosting an online yarn on Monday 23 January 2023, from 12.30 pm to 2 pm, for Annecto staff and care recipients/participants. Check out our YouTube channel to watch the recording of the session.
    The topic of the discussion was “Trolls and Trauma: understanding the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the lead-up to 26 January and how their fellow Australians can become an ally.”
    Hosted by: Paulette Whitton, Annecto Aboriginal Liaison Officer, and Michael Hercock, Executive Manager of National Business and Community Development

    Guest speakers:
    • Aunty Esme Bamblett, CEO Aboriginal Advancement League (AAL).

    • Dr Tiffany McComsey, CEO Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC)

    • Jeremy Heathcote, Deputy Chair Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group

Other 26 January events include:

  • Yabun Festival at Victoria Park in Broadway, Sydney. Live streaming is also available at www.yabun.org.au on 26 January.
  • Our Survival Day from 12- pm to 8 pm at The Briars, 450 Nepean Highway Mt Martha VIC. For more information go to www.oursurvivalday.com