Australians, one and free25/01/2021
January 26, 1788. The First Fleet of British convict ships arrived at Sydney Cove and founded the colony of NSW.
This day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet and the start of British colonisation.
While to some, this was the beginning of modern Australia, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this day instead marks the beginning of the loss of land, culture and family.
According to the peak national body for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, Reconciliation Australia, Aboriginal people also wholeheartedly wish to celebrate Australia’s values and freedoms but feel they can’t do so on January 26.
This is the basis of the argument for changing the date of Australia Day to one ALL Australians can celebrate.
“Simply forgetting and ‘getting over it’ isn’t how we move forward. What’s needed is empathy; understanding our shared story is a good place to start,” via advocate website Changethedate.org. “If we simply make a choice and move on, we miss the opportunity to understand where we’ve come from, where we are today and where we go from here.”
It’s ok to want to celebrate our glorious country! There’s a lot for which we should be proud.
But it’s important to also acknowledge that January 26 is a painful day for many Indigenous people, and to make an effort to understand why.
“Feeling guilty about Australia’s history isn’t useful. We’re not responsible for past injustices. But our words and actions in the present can be a starting point to building a brighter future together,” via not-for-profit Australians Together.
It is possible to celebrate Australia Day AND show solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Let’s use January 26 as a day of reflection and remembrance and instead find a new date to collectively mark all we mutually have to celebrate as Australians, one and free.
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