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Change is possible when you tell the truth: Captain Cook did not “discover” Australia

"First Nations peoples and nations had lived here on the land now known as Australia for more than 60,000 years before the Endeavour dropped anchor and this country was founded on a false doctrine of terra nullius.

"For First Nations peoples Cook’s voyage was the most consequential encounter by early European explorers as it heralded the beginning of a fundamental change to their way of life.

"For many people Captains Cook’s arrival symbolises the beginning of brutal frontier violence and massacres, the forced removal of children from their families, indentured and slave labour and violent attempts to wipe out First Nations’ language and culture.

"This violence and dispossession has not been formally acknowledged in over 230 years of contemporary Australia.

"Celebrating Captain Cook is an insult to First Nations peoples who never ceded sovereignty of their land and a deliberate misrepresentation of history. 
"It is an insult to their continued and repeated requests for this country to engage in a process of truth telling about our history, to acknowledge and heal from the trauma of colonisation and its ongoing impacts.

"A statue stands in the centre of our largest city effectively proclaiming to the world that no one here mattered until a white person "discovered" this land. 
"The inscription that Cook "discovered this territory" maintains a damaging myth.

"The truth is, Australia is still occupied because sovereignty was never ceded. 
"It is a national shame that the broader community know so little about First Nations history, culture and how this country was founded, and rather than perpetuating these mistruths, the Australian Government needs to acknowledge the truth and make a concerted effort to ensure a better understanding by all Australians of our true history, including new Australians.

"Our education and political systems have failed at recognising and accepting our true history.

"In spite of this, First Nations peoples have the oldest continuously living culture in the world.

"Successive Governments have ignored First Nations peoples repeated calls for control over decision making on issues that affect their lives and they continue to do so.

"It is time we stopped pretending that meaningful change can happen in a system that is grounded in denial. 
"Change is possible when you tell the truth, when you listen deeply and acknowledge and address the impacts that continue today. The more truth is told, the more support for truth grows in this nation."

Media Contact
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180

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