’Today is a day that causes pain', says premier
NSW Gladys Berejiklian has acknowledged January 26 is "a day of pain" for Indigenous Australians, as the nation remains divided over whether the date of Australia Day should change.
Speaking at the Wugulora Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo in Sydney on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian started her address by declaring Australia Day was an "annual opportunity to celebrate the values which make Australia one of the best places on earth."
But a day after rejecting the idea of moving Australia Day away from January 26, Ms Berejiklian paid tribute to the suffering of Indigenous Australians.
Some Australians oppose the national day being marked on that date because it is a day of mourning for Indigenous Australians.
"As we come here to acknowledge and celebrate these freedoms, we must also recognise as a mature and decent nation that today is a day that causes pain for some of our First Nations people," she said.
"We cannot, and should never, deny any aspect of our history or the key milestones that have made us the nation we are today.
"As we raise the Aboriginal flag alongside the flag of Australia, it renews hope that each passing Australia Day brings us closer to being truly one mob.
"Accepting and embracing what unifies us but also causes ongoing tension and pain is part of our evolution as a nation. Nations are always evolving and progressing. Australia is no different. We still have work to do."
For many Aboriginal Australians, January 26 is a day of mourning while for those who celebrate that date, it's one of national pride.
Yvonne Weldon, chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, said for Aboriginal Australians all the date does is drag up the suffering of First Nations people from the time Australia was colonised by the British.
"This is a sombre day for the First Nations of this country," she said.
"(When the First Fleet arrived) there was a change in a cycle, not for progress but for the devastation of our ancient traditions and people.
"This change was the start of traumas never experienced before. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land."
Originally published as 'Today is a day that causes pain:' Gladys