Thoughts From Our Community

The 26th of January is known to many as Australia Day and to many others Invasion or Survival Day. The date has long been a topic of debate among Australians due to its dramatically varying significances from one person to the next. Some see it as a time of mourning, others as a day of celebration.

We asked some of the members of our community to share their thoughts and feelings around the 26th of January as a date of celebration.


I think it should be a day of reconcile as much as it is a day of celebration...

...and the full spectrum of Australian history should be formally recognised within ceremonial, community functions. Everything should be touched from the extremely raw and painful to the great achievements of this country. There are many aspects of Australian society to be amended, however by continually working and learning together things will slowly get better for everyone."

Tyrown Waigana
Artist, Wardandi Noongar / Saibai Islander

 

I wholeheartedly believe that as a nation, we need to look inside ourselves and be honest about our motivations for wanting a single day to celebrate our country.

The Aboriginal people are not patriotic in the same context as the men and women that were brought to these shores, we honour the land, the animals, the seasons, the Dreamtime, every day of the year. The specific date 26 January is 'Invasion Day' to me and to countless others, and I feel it's irresponsible, neglectful and disrespectful, that the circumstances and truth of why this date is so significant from a first nations peoples' perspective, isn't taught as part of the Australian curriculum. If it were, then we would see a much higher level of empathy and compassion for the history and plight of our first nations people as our children progress through their early schooling, and beyond, by taking this truth out into the world. 

 
For those that say "It's just a date." It's not just a date to us! And if it is 'just a date' to you, then it should be easy to change, no questions asked, so that we can land on a day that we all feel equally humbled and in awe of our great land and the potential we have as a country to work together in both healing and progress. Australia Day as 26 January is to me, cringeworthy; though I do love this country, I love this land, the soil, the rivers, the coastline, the mountains, the desert and the freedom of religion.
  
Will merely changing the date help to heal the wound that is freshly ripped open every year on January 26 as people use the occasion to consume as much alcohol as they please and ironically boast about their freedoms? I don't think it will. Changing the date is only the start of the conversation. The real change will be seen by combining the date change with early primary and secondary school education, collaboration between educators and healers and continuing to share stories through creative channels. As a (reiki) healing facilitator, I also believe that healing is a personal choice and if we, as individuals living in this nation, don't choose it for ourselves, then it will be (collectively) out of reach. 
 
No one can change the past, but together we can create a brighter future. We just need to choose each other.
 
Shelley Conway
Artist, 
Bundjalung / Kanakas
 


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