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- George Pell beat the High Court on a technicality
- Faith, denial and the victims of the Catholic Church
- The ‘compression carpet’ machine will give you love and not judge (but we will)
Today, the white part of this nation celebrates its birth. But as an Indigenous Australian, January 26 is a day of disconnection and devaluation.
The excitement of the new year has slowly subsided and the nation begins to prepare plans for our next national holiday. One that in recent years has been an increasingly hot topic for debate.
While many Australians will spend the day at the beach, with a beer in one hand and a sausage in the other, others like me will spend the day staying as far away from the celebrations as possible.
Australia Day to me is a day that is intended to celebrate the many great attributes of this country, the contribution of its many diverse peoples and acknowledge the privilege it is to live in such a beautiful, prosperous and safe nation.
Unfortunately, I think that we as a nation fall short of what our national day is supposed to achieve. In fact, Australia day is the one day of the year that I, as an Indigenous Australian, feel most disconnected to and devalued by my fellow countrymen.
The truth is that the event we celebrate, the landing of the first fleet was the beginning of immense suffering for our first nations people with the traumas and social impacts leaving a long and continuous legacy within our Indigenous communities.
Whether you are for or against changing the date I would encourage to think deeply about why such a significant number of Australians, including our own Prime Minister, are so vehemently against it. The fact that there is such venom from those against changing the date highlights but one thing.
We as a nation don’t believe that our Indigenous people should be heard. It reaffirms the outdated patriarchal mentality the government and the rest of Australia has used to govern Indigenous Affairs since the first fleet landed.
This ridiculous concept that non-Indigenous Australian’s know what is best for our people and that our opinion, our pain and our struggle is of little relevance and should be nothing more than a hushed secret shared behind closed doors.
While many of you will be enjoying the day in the sun with a drink in hand I will spend it in my office, working and staying as far away from the celebrations as possible.
Where does this malice stem from? Is it from the false perception that Indigenous Australians are handed everything? Possibly, but let me clarify this for the benefit of all readers as it’s a question I am often asked by people once they learn of my heritage.
No, I was not gifted my house by the government, I don’t know a single person in the country that was. Just like all the hardworking homeowners across the country I paid for my own home and everything I have through nothing more than hard work, grit, and determination.
Honestly, I think it’s too easy of a cop-out to attribute such malevolence to such an easily disproved belief. I believe it runs much deeper than that and whilst we as a nation have made great strides toward reconciliation this debate that rolls around every year, a debate I despise proves only one thing, that we as a nation have a very long way to go before the country as a whole celebrates and values the 60,000 years of our living culture, land custodianship and contribution we have made to this great nation of ours.
I wish this debate didn’t affect me the way it does, I wish I could disengage, my light skin would make it easy for me to blend in with everyone else and not be ostracised by our national day of celebration in the way that I along with every other Indigenous Australian is.
But I can’t help it, I can’t help but be hurt that so many of my fellow citizens are so supportive of a day that brings so much emotional pain to me and my people.
So, while many of you will be enjoying the day in the sun with a drink in hand I will spend it in my office, working and staying as far away from the celebrations as possible.
Given all the injustices that our nation’s founders have suffered at the hands of our colonisers since their arrival, could this possibly be the real intention of Australia?