Survival day

If we are to truly celebrate being Australians, we desperately need to change the date. January 26, the day the British flag was first raised in what is now known as Sydney Cove, is not a day a celebration for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As this video demonstrates, celebrating the start of the invasion or conquest (which is an accurate way to describe it), is quite insensitive. (Sorry I can’t do anything about the inappropriate ad at the end of the video.)

I think it could be quite appropriate to keep January 26 as a day of celebration, but as Survival Day. It could be an opportunity to recognise that, despite the invasion and attempts to kill off the first people of the nation (either literally or by assimilation), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have survived. Even though they face many challenges, there is also much to celebrate.

As Ian McFarlane (a former Liberal Party Minister) suggests:

Why do I think we should we change the date from January 26? Simple. Because not all of us feel the same way about that date.

This is not about pleasing people, it is about uniting people. It’s about healing a wound, drawing a line, getting on with the really important issues facing our indigenous communities. It’s about stopping issues on the periphery distracting from the united, focused and concerted effort needed to fix problems in indigenous communities before they destroy themselves and diminish us as a great egalitarian nations.

Changing the date of Australia Day is inevitable: there will eventually be enough momentum to force a change. The sooner we do it the better.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Stan Grant “Racism is destroying the Australian Dream”
  2. We need to change the date of Australia Day
  3. Engaging Aboriginal fathers
  4. Young Aboriginal fathers talk about being dads
  5. Social change and strengths-based approaches
  6. Navigating dilemmas of community development: Practitioner reflections on working with Aboriginal communities

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
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