Medical Students call for systemic reform this
Invasion Day after another year of performative
26th January 2022
At a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to face systemic
inequities and marginalisation, AMSA firmly calls for an end to the celebration of January
26th — a day that memorialises the colonisation and dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander land, peoples and communities.
“Viewing colonisation as an isolated event of the past is simultaneously an
oversimplification of our history and a means of avoiding responsibility and accountability
by refusing to acknowledge the ongoing systemic racism and intergenerational harms
perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” says Isobella Kruger (a
Kombumerri and Ngugi woman), Co-Chair of AMSA Indigenous.
AMSA says increasing epidemiological literature provides evidence for racism as a
significant determinant directly affecting both physical health and mental health outcomes,
and so the continued celebration of Invasion Day only functions to further perpetuate the
psychological distress experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
AMSA is concerned at the ongoing harmful and ignorant rhetoric surrounding Invasion Day
amongst Australian political figures and at local community levels.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to face significant disparities in health
access and outcomes today. These outcomes, especially in the context of mental health and
well-being, continue to be exacerbated by systemic, social and interpersonal racism and
discrimination that permeates Australian society,” said Tish Sivagnanan, President of AMSA.
The dispossession of peoples, land and culture has led to and perpetuates the ongoing poor
health outcomes seen in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Invasion Day is not a day to celebrate, this is a day of mourning, yet without even symbolic
gestures of change from our federal government we are unlikely to see any structural or
systemic improvements to physical and mental health outcomes for our communities,” Ms
After decades of inaction and the inability to facilitate any meaningful change, the Australian
Government has consistently demonstrated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
and well-being outcomes are not a priority.
With an almost 20-year-long failing Closing the Gap initiative and scarce efforts to support
new initiatives to address health disparities amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people, AMSA calls upon our federal government to:
● publicly acknowledge the harms of celebrating Invasion Day and take action to
change this public holiday.
● actively seek and follow guidance from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island
communities and organisations regarding all policy decisions affecting them.
● switch the Closing the Gap initiative from a deficit-based outcome system to a
strengths-based one to actively support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities and their autonomy and strengths.
“Invasion Day does not just represent one single day in our history, it represents the ongoing
political violence, colonisation, racism, discrimination, dispossession of lands, silencing of
voices, and emotional labour that is still ongoing today for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities. We are still fighting this racism every single day not only in healthcare
but everywhere,” said Kyle Ryan (a Yuggera Ugarapul man), Co-Chair of AMSA Indigenous.
AMSA Indigenous acknowledges the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities, the battles they have gone through and the wars they are still fighting today.
AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 18,000 medical students. AMSA
Indigenous is led, overseen and directed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a national priority, and AMSA will continue to
advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and work towards eliminating the
racism and discrimination that exists at all levels of our healthcare and education systems
and broader society.
Tish Sivagnanan, AMSA President
0433 446 220
Mihan De Silva, Public Relations Officer
0406 944 567