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National Indigenous Freedom Fighters Day

Friday 20th January 2017 is a day that will, in time, become as significant to Australians as Invasion Day – 26th January.

The struggle to have a monument erected to Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, two indigenous freedom fighters who were executed on the 20th January 1842 for fighting to protest their lands, their families, their communities, their language and their culture, in a major capital city has ended. A monument financed and maintained by the Melbourne City Council after a 12 year community campaign led by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee has resulted in the establishment of a significant, vibrant, living monument at the corner of Franklin and Victoria St in the Melbourne CBD. We are grateful this phase of the struggle has come to an end but understand it is only the beginning of the struggle to kick start the stalled reconciliation process between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

This monument is a template for the rest of Australia to begin the struggle to acknowledge the significant impact the frontier wars have had, and continue to have, on Australian society. The 20th January marks NATIONAL INDIGENOUS FREEDOM FIGHTERS DAY. On the day Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were executed in 1842, we publicly acknowledge the tens of thousands of men, women and children who were killed in the most brutal fashion during the colonisation of this land. We remember those who paid the ultimate price resisting the colonisation of this land. We acknowledge our indigenous brothers and sisters who continue to struggle for a reconciliation process based on justice, not charity.

We encourage you to tell your children, friends and communities you live and work in about the significance of 20th January. With your support and the support of the communities you belong to, Indigenous Freedom Fights Day will morally and physically eclipse Invasion Day. It is a tragedy we continue to celebrate who we are on a day that caused so much misery and harm to people who had lived on this continent and the islands around this continent, for over 40,000 years. There are many more appropriate days we can celebrate the multicultural society that is being created on this continent.

An important way to battle the swirling clouds of racism that are enveloping this country is to publicly acknowledge the brutality of the colonisation process and the lingering effects it has on us both as individuals and a nation. We need to acknowledge the past, to understand the present and change the future.


Dr. Joseph Toscano / Convenor Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee