Recent widespread criticism after the University of New South Wales released a document to aid teachers on using the appropriate language when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There were many Australians who were furious with the modification of the language believing that all Australians needed to accept the guilt and take responsibility. In Bryce Barker’s article in The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Of course Australia was invaded’ released in April 2016 he claims Australia needs to understand that did invade Australia was not settled peacefully. Barker argues that it had happened less than one hundred years ago making it quite recent and that they aren’t rewriting history. He also assures that Australia was indeed invaded.
Barker declares that this event was quite recent and the nation still needs to be respectful and that the Aboriginal people suffered in horrific conditions. He compares the Coniston massacre to World War One questioning why they are seemingly different. ‘In the Northern Territory in 1928, admit to 31 Walpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye men, women and children being killed by Constable William Murray and his men.’ He then explains how this tragic event only happened 88 years ago although we remember our roles in the First World War 100 years ago. He then uses a rhetorical question, ‘Is not a Walpiri man’s death defending his way of life just as worthy of remembrance as a World War 1 digger’s ten years earlier?’ This rhetorical question was used to force readers to observe the trauma that the Aboriginal people endured. Barker also reminds the readers that these horrific massacres were still being carried out in 1930. He reminds the readers about the continuation of these massacres after radio host Kyle Sandilands suggested ‘people needed to move on it was 200 years ago.’ This encourages the readers to feel angered towards the ignorance of these events.
Barker continuously argues that the University of New South Wales are not ‘rewriting’ history. He displays this by repeatedly highlighting the word rewriting. Barker explains how radio star Sandilands believed that the “diversity toolkit” was an ‘attempt to “rewrite history.” The definition of rewriting is to ‘write in a different form or manner’ where he later demonstrates that,’ the UNSW guidelines are not “rewriting ” history – they are simply highlighting a history that has never been adequately told in the first place.’ Barker claims that Australian society will always deny what truly happened when Australia was ‘settled’. The repetition is used to assure readers that the truth was never declared so there isn’t a way that the UNSW could ‘rewrite history’. Barker additionally includes the image, ‘The Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770’ where the readers can see a few Cook’s crew aiming their weapons at aboriginal people seen in the distance. This explains that they began the murders immediately after their arrival. He includes the image to persuade readers to understand the Aboriginals are the rightful owners of the land and their land was invaded.
Barker declares that Australia was indeed invaded and the land is important for the Aboriginal people, he uses appeals and comparisons to make his idea clear. He uses terms such as ‘attack, assault, incursion, conquest and subjugation; all synonyms for the term “invasion”‘. He uses this list of guilt provoking words to invoke the reader into feeling sympathy towards the trauma the Aboriginal people went through. He then explains that by using the word settled instead of invasion, the Australian history would be viewed, ‘from the shores of England rather than the shores of Australia.’ He compares Native mounted Police camps to Gallipoli suggesting that, ‘important places of remembrance such as should never be forgotten’ . He argues that since Australians have such a strong association towards Gallipoli due to the ‘physical evidence of frontier conflict’ then the same respect should be show towards the Indigenous communities who had the same experience on the Native Mounted Police camps. This influences readers to understand why the land is so important to the Aboriginal people. Barker also uses an appeal to make the readers feel guilty about the way the Aboriginal people have been treated. ‘Hopefully one day mon-Indigenous people will be able to visit these sites and reflect on our collective history, rather than being threatened by it.’
Barker’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Of course Australia was invaded’ continuously argues that the readers need to understand that the nation needs understand that Australia was not settled peacefully it was invaded. Australia can’t just ‘get over it’ due to how recent this event was the teachers guideline wasn’t constructed to ‘rewrite’ history, it was constructed to help use appropriate language and reveal the truth behind Australia’s invasion.