On this day on Gadigal land in 1788 Arthur Philip planted a flag on behalf of Great Britain. They knew the land to be occupied by Indigenous peoples, but they claimed it anyway, ‘terra nullius’, ‘land belonged to no one’.

The taking of this continent by the British had a devastating effect on the first nations people. From the 26th of Jan 1788, they lost their citizenship, their rights and freedoms and in many cases their lives.

Because of this, many Australians are unable to celebrate today. Instead, it’s a day of mourning. A day of remembrance.

Today we remember the thousands killed, women, men and children in the taking of their land.  Those dispossessed and enslaved. Today we mourn the destruction of families, of land and culture. We take this time to acknowledge and share in the pain and trauma that is still present in Indigenous communities today.

As Australian citizens, the truth of what began in 1788 belongs to all of us.