Or Survival Day. Or Invasion Day, depending on who you ask.
I have to confess I was never very thoughtful when I was younger about why this day would upset so many people.
However, I have lately listened to many different voices on what it means to them.
Stan Grant’s ‘Australian Dream‘ speech should be required listening in school. It tells us why it’s almost impossible for Indigenous Australians to move past the hurtful part of being ‘conquered’. The injustices were still happening to his family right through to his own birth.
It would seem a little non-compassionate to expect someone to just get on with it when the generations have barely moved past the trauma of violence, abuse, discrimination and disrespect.
Somehow I did not connect 26 January with the First Fleet landing and why this was a bad thing for Aboriginal Australians. I’m not sure how this had moved from my memory somehow, but it had. I confess my association had become completely from my white privilege perspective. It was all about the cliches that are put out there – beaches, beer, the British inspired flag, white blonde girls, handsome white men in uniform, Vegemite, koalas.
Sometimes my own life issues prevented me from seeing the issues, as I was too caught up in my own.
Of course I was aware and horrified by the treatment of the local Indigenous people and the lie of terra nullus. I have advocated against discrimination many times.
However this year, on this Tuesday, it has been like a clearing of the fog in relation to Australia Day for me.
I believe that we, as a nation, should not be celebrating a day when people landed, some of whom were sent there without wanting to be there, and took not only the land, but the lives and dignity of the Indigenous people who lived there.
I now believe that the date of Australia Day should be changed.
Would it be logical for your family to celebrate something on the day when they were all murdered? Doesn’t seem that it would be to me.
I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to connect the dots on this. I can only blame my white privilege and my distraction for not seeing it sooner.
Let us perhaps ask the Indigenous people of Australia to choose a day to celebrate their culture, and where we can then join them in celebrating Australia since occupation. We should always start this day remembering that there was no terra nullus, that these people had been here for 40,000 years and were very much custodians of the land we all now call Australia.
No, I don’t think any of my ancestors killed any Aborigines. But that’s not the point. I have benefited from being here, born here as a white person.
I am proud to be Australian, although there are many things that have happened in the last few years that have made me pause.
This is indeed a lucky country and it takes nothing away from me to say that we were wrong to celebrate this landing day of 26 January, and while we may have all been ignorant once, we can no longer claim that now.
Change the date. It’s that simple.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,