• Michael Ingrey sees educational opportunities for keeping Australia Day on January 26. (NITV)Source: NITV
A descendent of the Indigenous people which saw the First Fleet arrive in Sydney sees January 26 as an opportunity.
Julie Nimmo

26 Jan 2019 - 3:40 PM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2019 - 3:40 PM

Michael Ingrey describes himself as Gadhungal, meaning the saltwater Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney.

A member of the Dharawal Nation, Mr Ingrey lives in the seaside suburb La Perouse – not far from where James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour landed in 1770 followed by the First Fleet's arrival in 1788.

He has spent many years reading the "horrific" colonial history of the region and contributed research to historian Paul Irish's book Hidden from Plain View.

Mr Ingrey refers to January 26 as Survival Day but believes it is an opportunity to "educate" the general public about impact of British settlement on Aboriginal people.

“I've seen and read some  historical documents that happened within the first 30 or 40 years of European arrival,” Mr Ingrey told NITV.

“I believe that we've got to look forward in what we do, and use it to our advantage.

The 26th [of January] will always be celebrated, but it's the way that we educate people on why we see it as Survival Day, and they see it as Australia Day.”

“It’s a great way for us to tell our story.”

Mr Ingrey hopes the general public will consider the perspective of Indigenous people before taking a position on the Australia Day debate.

“We are the remnants of the people that were here when not only Cook arrived, but also when the First Fleet came. We're the ones that continue to live in the area and see the change,” he said.

The prime minister recently announced that $6.7 million would be spent to sail a replica of the Endeavour around Australia.

But Mr Ingrey would prefer that the money would be spent on social services to address issues including youth homelessness or improve the juvenile justice system.

“Personally, I think the funding could be spent in other places,” he said.

“I guess the Australian public will have to wait and see.”