“Morrison did not nominate where the idea for a new Indigenous day came from but said it’s a ‘good discussion to have’. After a request from Guardian Australia, the prime minister’s office was not able to nominate any process of consultation to consider the idea.”
Whatever your opinion of the day, it is impossible not to stop and consider it. By considering I mean how does one give it the meaning it so richly deserves.
Of course, our First Nations People would like it moved to another day because they see the day as an invasion of the country they have occupied continuously for thousands of years.
Although now almost 80 years of age, I have to confess I have only ever shaken one Aboriginal’s hand in my lifetime. It was that of Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls (of the Yorta Yorta nation) who played VFL football with Fitzroy many years ago. I might have been 16 years of age at the time.
Other dark-skinned faces have just walked by with a look of resignation as I have acknowledged them in the street. Am I ashamed of not making a more significant effort? Yes, I am.
However, I’m not removed from having a view simply because of a lack of connection. No, indeed l am not.
More importantly, social justice or injustice raises my blood pressure above normal. I find racism amongst the worst of all evils. This year as we approach day 26, we are reminded by both sides of the argument just what the day means to all Australians, but at the same time, we are also asked by our First Nations People to consider whether it is the right day.
For me, it is a bad day, and I should think that commemorating the day you have your country taken from you is hardly the day the nation which is now a multitude of ethnic origins is hardly a day to celebrate it. I hope most reasoned people would agree, but that is not the case. It gets a bit unsavoury for me when my fellow citizens treat the day so flippantly and dismiss out of hand our First Nations People’s involvement in it.
On the one hand, many of my fellow Australians see it as a chance to celebrate the country’s lifestyle, culture and achievements, typically through barbeques and public events, yet always through the prism of the white fella’s eyes. However, the date is not a happy one for Australia’s Indigenous people.
January 26 is also a significant date on the cricketing calendar, and this year Cricket Australia (CA) – much to the ire of Prime Minister Scott Morrison – recognisees the pain it brings to Indigenous Australians
“After consulting with Indigenous leaders, CA is choosing not to market games as ‘Australia Day’ clashes, instead referring to them as ‘January 26’ matches because it wants be inclusive of all people Down Under, including First Nations people who view the date as a dark day in the nation’s history.
However, Mr Morrison was completely against the decision, telling Queensland’s 4RO radio: ‘A bit more focus on cricket, a little less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia’.”
When he became Prime Minister, Scott Morrison repeated the lie of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that a voice for our First Nations People would create a third chamber in the Parliament. An Australian parliamentarian has never uttered a more significant load of crap.
The last paragraph of the above article …
In my lifetime, Indigenous Australians have taken considerable strides in sport, education, the arts, and health.
Of the last eight Indigenous Australians of the year, four have been sportspeople. (Lionel Rose, 1968; Yvonne Goolagong, 1971; Cathy Freeman, 1998; and Adam Goodes, 2014).
Each was a fine choice, but at the same time, when it happens, it can be controversial. Success by individuals doesn’t always reflect itself at a community level.
Australian Rules football, rugby, and many other sports are dotted with champions’ names.
More Aboriginals are now entering politics, becoming doctors and academics.
In the arts, we have The Bangarra Dance Company, now a worldwide success. Painters Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and many others adorn galleries’ walls throughout the world. More Aboriginals are now attending university than at any time in history.
The following quote is taken from a Covenant statement of the Uniting Church 1994:
“We lament that our people took your land from you as if it were land belonging to nobody, and often responded with great violence to the resistance of your people; our people took from you your means of livelihood, and desecrated many sacred places. Our justice system discriminated against you, and the high incarceration rate of your people and the number of Black deaths in custody show that the denial of justice continues today.”
What is needed is a date in which we can celebrate an Australia Day in which with the use of truth-telling we can create a narrative that satisfies the history of our First Australians and at the same time defines who we are in the world we inhabit.
Do the majority of Australians have an opinion on when Australia Day should be celebrated? Apparently not:
“A poll commissioned by progressive think tank Australia Institute found 56% didn’t care when the national day was held, while a separate poll from conservative group the Institute of Public Affairs resulted in 70% support for keeping Australia Day on January 26.”
Do you remember the Uluru Statement from the Heart?
The Government’s rejection of the statement that the public greeted with some enthusiasm was, in my view, indefensible. It was an act of “political bastardry” that told our First Nations People that they were wasting their time.
“This act of political bastardry cannot be left unanswered and must be answered with no less than the full outrage it deserves.”
Before any Government can find an Australia Day worthy of celebration it must include all the nations now settled on our shores.
However, it will always be considered unworthy unless our First Nations People have their words flown on eagles’ wings, at the forefront of all the Indigenous nations now gathered.
In recent times our conservative governments have rejected all Indigenous folks’ efforts to advance their people and their voices.
They always seem to stop short when the word “equal” appears before them.
Then words like “know your place” show their white on black and it is like a barrier that can never be overcome. Sadly, racism is alive and well in 2021 as it was in 1788.
Until the conservatives in the government can comprehend the words equality, reconcile and unify, we will never celebrate a real Australia Day.
In closing, here’s a quiz: Who said this?
“We could all make a list of the things that should be better: trust in politicians, economic competitiveness, standards in schools, safety on our streets (especially in Melbourne), congested roads and inefficient public transport, and – yes – the well-being of the First Australians, but is anything to be gained by this annual cycle of agonizing over the date of our national day?”
My thought for the day
Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism.
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