We talk and talk and talk. Every year. The same discussions, the same arguments, and the same emotions. Then, we get to January 27th, and no one cares anymore. We need to stop the talking, as it achieves nothing and only polarises people more. We need to turn that talking into quick action.
January 26th, commonly known as Australia Day, has been disputed more and more each year. Why should we have a date to celebrate the invasion of the Aboriginal people? I agree, it is not a day to celebrate, and we need to do more to reconcile with Aboriginal Australians.
Now, I don’t want to join in on the annual conversation and debate which takes place on this day, because I find it less and less helpful each year. If you’d like to hear my thoughts, I’ll put a link to the article I wrote last year, one that I get extreme déjà vu while reading: https://thelevinelowdown.com/2020/01/23/australia-day-controversy/.
Instead, I want to write a request to the Australian Government:
Why is January 26th so important?
What is stopping you from changing the date?
The reality is, these debates will continue every single year until the date is changed. We need to find a date that represents the whole of Australia, including those who were here since the beginning. There are many dates to choose from, but if you are stuck for ideas, here are some great options:
January 1st! A great way to start the year and also the day when the Commonwealth of Australia came into being in 1901.
May 8th! Mate! Let’s do it! It’s not a politically relevant day, but it’s a day that considers all Australians and makes the day more inclusive. The idea of mateship crosses cultural, religious and racial barriers, and would be a great alternative.
May 27th! On this day in 1967, Australians voted to allow the Federal Government to make laws for Indigenous Australians and for them to be included in the census count. It was a momentous day in recognising all Australians, and a great day to celebrate.
There are a few options, but there are still other dates which would be acceptable.
I hate the conversations regarding January 26th because it detracts from WHY people want the date to be changed. It divides people, and that is against the goal of reconciliation with the Aboriginal community. Changing the date is an essential step in recognising that we need a date to celebrate our nation that is inclusive for everyone, and start focusing upon other more critical steps towards reconciliation.
These steps include addressing the significant inequality that Aboriginal communities face regarding education, healthcare and law enforcement. This needs to be the focus, not the date.
Australian Government, this is the time to be courageous.
Change the date.