Today is Australia Day, a day of celebration, enjoying the beach, spending time with friends, a barbecue and beer.
Or is it, really ?
January 26th, 1788, marks the date of the arrival of the First Fleet, and claiming of Australia as a British colony. Australia was seen as Terra Nullis, uninhabited, the Aboriginal people were classified as fauna. Aboriginal Australians were only given the vote in 1962, and counted in the census in 1967.
This date is seen as Invasion Day by many people of Aboriginal background, and it is seen as a day of reflection and mourning. The history in this country, of colonial domination, is appalling.
Please, can we change the date ?
I attended a really thought-provoking meeting at work, where recent immigrants, European Australians, overseas people and people of Aboriginal descent discussed the meaning of Australia Day. The overwhelming consensus was that we are all keen to celebrate being Australian, and the diversity in this wonderful country, but that day is just too hard for our first Australians.
Yes, changing the date may be seen as a token measure, but as a incredibly important step to many. And, it could open the door to greater discussion, like our government actually considering the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a true statement from the heart of our Aboriginal people which our Prime Minister refused to read.
The words speak for themselves. Read them as I could not do justice by summarising them. I had the privilege, in 2017, of working with the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia and being welcomed into their community. Soon after, I saw the Uluru Statement in real life. These experiences have shaped my opinions on the issue of Australia Day and for what it should stand.
Let’s change the date.