By Shane Primrose
‘Australia Day’ proves how misguided we are in understanding who holds the power… If you’re a little like me, you didn’t celebrate Australia Day yesterday. Perhaps, instead you spent some time wandering around your house, listening to the bass of someone’s stereo rattle through your walls as you responded to text messages from your friends, letting them know that they shouldn’t expect to see you at their party today.
Maybe you stepped out for a coffee at your favourite store with a good book in hand; Politely responded to friendly strangers with a smile when they wished you “Happy Australia Day!” or asked “Hey bro, You gettin’ on it today?” Or perhaps, you did celebrate today.
But it didn’t feel quite right. Did it? Before we continue any further here, I have two exercises I would like you to complete right now; First, imagine there was a time when your ancestors were stripped of everything they knew. Their lands and their children were stolen from them. They watched on as friends and families were – amongst other unspeakable acts – murdered. Take a moment to close your eyes and consider this.
Feel free to come back to reality when you can no longer bear this mental image. This is a dark thing to consider I know. An image that makes you feel sick to your stomach. These thoughts are a reality for our Indigenous population. The mourning I’d imagine is never more prominent than on the 26th of January. Secondly, please consider an issue that you are passionate about. Perhaps you are one who strongly values marriage equality, protection against domestic violence or the rights of refugees. All prominent issues right now and all are gaining traction and respect – thankfully.
Now, I’d like you to take that issue that holds so much passion for you and imagine this: There is now a national day that completely dismisses your issue. Your nation binds together on this day and tells you that you are a minority. Nobody cares about your issue and you should “Get over it!” Think about it. So, you mad bro? Yes? Well, so are the first people of this nation. Now that you understand why, we can move forward. As many of us do around this time of year, I found myself in a discussion with some friends, about whether Australia Day should be celebrated on the 26th of January – The day that marks the First Fleet’s arrival in Port Jackson. Subsequently, of course marking the destruction of much of our indigenous culture. I was intrigued to see how misguided we can be in understanding how much power we have as consumers with regards to this issue.
One friend commented, “I know it’s a big issue, and I know it’s not right, but it’s just never going to change. If it does it will take years and years. There is nothing we can do about it now.” “Really, nothing?” I thought. “Surely it wouldn’t take years to change. It would simply take action.” Please my friends, let me make one thing clear for you. We have enormous power as consumers. Far more than some people would like you to know. While you think of Australia Day, you may picture yourselves having a cracking day with your friends, some good food, good music and a bit of backyard cricket thrown in for a laugh. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s fantastic.
As I’ve been reminded today, I’ve been to plenty of these Aussie shindigs myself in the past. But this isn’t the way some large corporations see Australia Day, despite them trying to make you to believe it is so through their clever advertising. Corporations simply see this day as another cash cow. ‘Australia Day’ is a means to keep the money rolling in. Similarly, your government sees it as a boost to the economy. The money is in motion, people are employed. The system works. As long as the system works, for so long as people are compliant, continue to spend money, and celebrate our great nation on a day that is dismissive not only of our indigenous culture, but also much of our migrant history, we will be continuing to embarrass ourselves every year. We do this through publicly displaying our lack of compassion and inability to realise the importance of celebrating our great nation on a day that is inclusive of all Australians.
Three things I believe I believe that all people are inherently good. I believe that most people would like to celebrate our nation on a day that is inclusive of all Australians; But they don’t believe they have the power to change this. I believe these people are wrong in thinking they lack power to create change. Please understand, we will have an inclusive national day as soon as we choose to make it so. The solution is simple; And the beautiful part is we don’t need to boycott Australia Day. Far from it. Live it up! We’re from the greatest nation on Earth! It’s a beautiful thing to have a day to reflect on all that makes this country great… We just need to do it on a different day.
Really, any other day. Understand that when we collectively exercise our free choice and celebrate this nation on another day, we will force large corporations and our Government to respond. If we stop taking the media and advertising bait, if we stop telling ourselves “It’s wrong, but what can we do?” we will no longer find ourselves having to celebrate our nation on a day of mourning for our Indigenous population, as it will no longer be a profitable vehicle.
Our Government will then take action and rectify an issue that has long been Australia’s shame. We as consumers hold the power to dictate action through our purchases. Every time we make a purchase we are voting; Every vote counts. The year that the votes are tallied and the realization sets in that Australians are no longer willing to celebrate the successes of the nation on a day that marks the beginning of a genocide and a day of mourning for our first people, will be the day that there will be change. This will be a beautiful day. The first ‘True Australia Day.’ Who holds the power to celebrate Australia on #anyotherday? We do.
Shane is the founder of GoodFootball.com.au a social enterprise that donates one football to support children in need for every football sold. He is also a high school teacher, specialising in Physical Education, Science and Mathematics. Passionate about both social and environmental issues, he strives to be a part of change through education and philanthropy.
It may have been Sky’High who made this point to the greatest effect when she rapped “Only way to move on is to get along. Better not get it wrong, cause after all, aren’t we all one under the sun?” in The Herd’s cover of Change Gonna Come.