Lets have Australia Day on a date where we can all celebrate

Rebecca Vassarotti MLA 23 January 2018 93
Australia Day - Time to change the date.

Australia Day – Time to change the date.

There has been major furore accompanying the suggestion that we need to think about changing the date of Australia Day. Significant criticism has been aimed at people who have questioned if celebrating this holiday on 26 January is ok given this date marks the beginning of a history of dispossession, disenfranchise and racism towards the First Australians.

It is quite astounding to watch the moves to shut down these conversations, ridicule and punish councils and organisations that have tried to respond to the understandable concerns raised, deny the reality of what the current situation does to people or to brand those who suggest we need to think about changing the date of Australia as unpatriotic.

This tells us a lot about where we are as a Nation in our reconciliation journey.

For me, rather than being divisive, the discussion that has started around the change the date campaign has been really useful. It has given me context around how 26 January has not always been the date which has marked this celebration and a better understanding around how the values and traditions that have been attached to Australia Day in recent years is a relatively new reality. While recognising that even within the Aboriginal community there is a diversity of views, this discussion has made it clear that many Aboriginal people see this celebration on the date chosen as deeply offensive and hurtful.

It is true that moving the date of Australia Day will do little to improve the significant disadvantage faced by local Aboriginal communities. This does not mean we shouldn’t do it as an important step in our reconciliation journey. For a start, it is important that we do not actively reinforce trauma and hurt for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people dealing with dispossession. We can’t ignore that a significant group within our community expresses their inability to be part of a celebration that is promoted as a chance to come together as Australians. More than that however, moves such as this signal our commitment as a community to be part of the reconciliation journey. It’s about us honestly meeting our history and recognising that we all need to change in order to create environments where reconciliation is possible and disadvantage can be reduced.

We all need to consider how we should engage with this issue. I know I already have started. I always loved celebrating the Australia Day holiday and we have carved out family rituals and traditions for the day. However, in recent years as we have reflected on the impact of this particular holiday on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it has become more difficult to ignore the hurt and trauma of choosing this of all days to celebrate unity, tolerance and diversity. Our family has found that rituals and traditions can change – and shouldn’t our community also be able to evolve and grow?

As well as how we respond personally, we also need to think about how we respond as a community. Here in the ACT, the Government is to be commended for trying to recognise the need to reflect on reconciliation, with the declaration of ‘Reconciliation Day’ as an annual public holiday from May this year. This, however, does not negate the need for us as a community to reflect deeply, with good faith and empathy on how we mark the date of 26 January in the ACT.

So, this Australia Day I will be taking time to reflect on all our history – the times where we have shone as Australians, and the times when we haven’t done as well as we could have. I will also be taking the time to reflect on what I can do to stand in solidarity and move forward as a united community into a future where we are all prepared to do our bit to improve the lives of everyone in our community.

I think it is time to talk about changing the date of Australia Day and finding a date that is more inclusive and where all Australians can unite behind. What do you think?

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93 Responses to Lets have Australia Day on a date where we can all celebrate
Lorne Thurgar Lorne Thurgar 11:03 pm 28 Jan 18

Keep the date the same and only fly the one flag. Our National Flag..!!

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 2:43 pm 28 Jan 18

Only 25% of the commenters are endorsing a change of date so far.

Hatter64 Hatter64 5:52 am 28 Jan 18

I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t buy a NADOC flag anywhere, when around Australia Day there are lots of British/Australian Flags at very cheap prices in places like the Reject Shop.
I mentioned to a friend that I’d like to fly both flags to Celebrate our combined Country. He had an even better idea; make it a 4-day weekend to commemorate the arrival of the British and to respect Our First Settlers. I thought it was a great idea. When? Summer. Peace.

    I am a Rabbit™ I am a Rabbit™ 9:23 am 28 Jan 18

    You can’t purchase the flag because it isn’t in the public domain. The copyright owner doesn’t allow companies to have anything to do with it unless they pay massive licensing fees. I remember that the person in question denied Google the ability host drawings by an 11 year old featuring indigenous art because, in his own words, they wouldn’t pay him money.

    Spiral Spiral 10:49 am 28 Jan 18

    It would be a great idea, except the people wanting the date changed will not be happy as long as there is any positive recognition of the First Fleet.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 10:59 pm 27 Jan 18

The people suggesting Lady Mungo’s discovery date are not taking account of the fact that Torres Strait Islanders arrived in Australia 2,500 years ago, not 50,000 years ago. This is a fact that rarely gets a mention.

Junia James Junia James 10:25 am 27 Jan 18

Absolutely not.

Narelle Leonard Narelle Leonard 9:48 am 27 Jan 18

Keep the date

    Narelle Leonard Narelle Leonard 4:35 pm 28 Jan 18

    Kerry Baylor January thank you.

    Narelle Leonard Narelle Leonard 5:27 pm 28 Jan 18

    Kerry Baylor it isn't always a long weekend - the 26th isn't always a Friday or a Monday.

Tiffany Noy Tiffany Noy 9:34 am 27 Jan 18

How will this help the indigenous people of Australia? What are you trying to accomplish? Will it give them more rights, will it turn back the clock? Will their health and life stats improve? Will it give them more respect? I want to know what the goal of this is....

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:43 pm 27 Jan 18

    Yes, it will give them some respect

    Tiffany Noy Tiffany Noy 3:01 am 28 Jan 18

    Margaret Freemantle you fail to realise the majority of white Australians are descendent of thieves and like my 14 year old ancestor was thrown on a boat for stealing so she wouldn’t starve! Being sent here on a convict boat was a fate worse than death! We know what happened to our families and how we got here do you hear us whinging to England?

Karl Barnes Karl Barnes 8:36 am 27 Jan 18

26th Jan sounds good.

Christopher Goyne Christopher Goyne 10:28 pm 26 Jan 18

Leave the date alone.

Affirmative Action Man Affirmative Action Man 10:22 pm 26 Jan 18

“our Indigenous people belong to the oldest continuous culture in the world”.

I don’t get this at all. How is Australian Indigenous culture any older than other cultures such as the Chinese or Egyptian. My culture goes back at least that far. Does it mean that the culture was unchanged for 50,000 years before 1788 ??

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:23 am 28 Jan 18

    Culture is related to a society and the nomadic indigenous people in Australia did not fit this description.

    You can argue how far back they went until the cows came home but it’s academic because there was no culture.

    Spiral Spiral 5:01 pm 28 Jan 18

    Very very wrong. The Indigenous people of Australia most certainly did have a culture. Naturally it did change over time and it is very difficult to determine how much their culture as seen a couple of hundred years ago was the same as their culture 50,000+ years ago. But it changed much less than that of the Egyptians (for example).

    A more realistic question would be “Is it still a living culture?” How many people still in a way that would be culturally close to how it was before the British came? i.e. same lifestyle, language, laws, belief, technology etc? Given a choice between white culture or aboriginal culture, how many aboriginals want to get a chunk of land and go and live on it without the benefits of white culture?

    How many of the whites who are so negative of British colonisation would honestly like to go and live as per traditional aboriginal culture?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:50 pm 29 Jan 18

    Where are the chronicles that support the “traditional culture” you claim they had?

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 7:43 pm 26 Jan 18

Two things.

1. The overwhelming majority of Aboriginal Australians have immigrant ancestors. They owe their very existence to the process that began in 1788.

2. Those wishing to change the date to one that “all Australians can celebrate” ignore the fact that many are opposed to any change. This process is divisive and isn’t going to have any positive effect.

Ritva Eronen Ritva Eronen 7:42 pm 26 Jan 18

This is the best time of the year to celebrate Australia Day. Changing the date does not really change anything else. People who want to change the date will not be happy even if the date is changed.

Wes Dempsey Wes Dempsey 6:11 pm 26 Jan 18

Having the best Australia day right now! And all those who want to change it can go and get f........ you get my point! Happy Australia day!!!!!!

Mick Johnson Mick Johnson 4:56 pm 26 Jan 18

have your invasion day anyday of the year but leave Australia day alone.Wonder how many protestors didn't go to work and had the day off, hypocrites

Darren Campbell Darren Campbell 4:52 pm 26 Jan 18

Lets forget about this absoultly rediculas date debate & put our eforts & money into things that will actually make a differance

    Ant Davies Ant Davies 8:22 pm 26 Jan 18

    Like education - especially for spelling lol. 😁

Darren Campbell Darren Campbell 4:50 pm 26 Jan 18

Spot on steve

Cheryl Gay Cheryl Gay 4:11 pm 26 Jan 18

The nation as a whole didn’t celebrate Australia Day when we were kids. We had a long weekend at the end of January whenever that day fell closest to 26/1. The day we did celebrate in a big way was Empire Day later in the year. We had fireworks & bonfires and the whole street would get together so the kids could let off fireworks. Most of us didn’t get that excited about Australia Day back then. It’s just a day for jingoism & nationalism, in their worst forms, to raise their ugly heads.

Carolyn Wanganeen Carolyn Wanganeen 3:49 pm 26 Jan 18

I suggest that we change the date to commemorate the discovery of Mungo Lady, which revealed that the history of human settlement in this country dated back at least 50000 years, and showed that our Indigenous people belong to the oldest continuous culture in the world.With this date we could actually celebrate the whole history of this country, and not just a shameful part of it.

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 7:59 pm 27 Jan 18

    History and archaeology are two different things. History is the record of events, and if people were making records of events 50 000 years ago, they haven’t survived to this day.

    It is a big leap to say that continuous human occupation equates to continuous human culture. That isn’t true anywhere else in the world for periods longer than a few hundred years, so why should Australia be any different?

Carolyn Wanganeen Carolyn Wanganeen 3:41 pm 26 Jan 18

January 26th is not the best day for this. For most of us who are not from the eastern states it is a day that we cannot really relate to, and it is a day of mourning for indigenous people, and those of us who are coming to terms with what was lost with colonisation.

Carolyn Wanganeen Carolyn Wanganeen 3:36 pm 26 Jan 18

I am not really keen on any sort of national day because I am uncomfortable with the fundamentalist nationalism that comes out at this time. That said I am happy to recognise achievements and acknowledge flaws, and have a day where we can do this.

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