I am truly grateful to live in this beautiful land.
At the same time, I am also honest enough to be able to acknowledge the history of dispossession that shadows our land and hence to seek to understand and honor the feelings of Australia’s traditional indigenous population regarding Australia Day.
In so doing, I offering up my humble apologies for the disrespectful way in which Australia was stolen from its traditional indigenous land owners all those years ago.
I believe that holding the capacity to acknowledge the wrongs of the past does not make anyone a “bad Aussie”.
If anything, I believe that holding the capacity to truly acknowledge our past, whilst also offering up a genuine willingness to pay respect to the true custodians of this land, would make us better Australians.
There is no shame in showing respect and understanding towards those for whom Australia Day is not now, nor has it ever been, viewed as a day of celebration, but rather a day that signals the loss of their country, ‘Invasion Day’.
We lose nothing by showing compassion and support for those who still feel the sting of dispossession.
We lose nothing by tempering our own views in such a way as to be able to incorporate within Australia Day, both our gratitude for being able to live in such a beautiful land our acknowledgement that our fortune came at the loss of our Indigenous population.
Were we personally responsible for the past?
No, of course not.
But we are personally responsible for both the present and the future.
I for one have spent years explaining to my children that for many people, Australia Day is double-edged sword.
It is a day filled with both joy and sorrow.
A day that attempts to celebrate the diversity of the Australian way of life, whilst seeking desperately to cover up the ugliness of a past that includes genocide and endless interventions aimed only at one race.
I make sure that my children know the truth about the history of this nation because it’s a history that has created the framework for the circumstance in which our indigenous population all too often find themselves living in today.
Living lives in rural and remote outback towns, filled with poverty, poor health care, lack of educational and employment opportunities, high infant mortality death rates, lower than average life expectancy for both men and women and the by the far the highest per capita rate of incarceration.
I make sure that my children understand that this is a past that can never be truly left behind until all of the inequities that have accrued from that time forward, are both acknowledged and addressed by all Australians.
There is no point in trying to hide or excuse the actions of those who have gone before us.
There is even less point to it if, whilst in the process of doing so, we are enacting further harm, isolation, dispossession and outrage upon those who have already been harmed so much.
This Australia Day, let’s work toward recognizing the rights of our indigenous people via having the courage to honestly to acknowledge exactly how white Australian’s came to be here, and not just to ourselves, but also to our children and to our neighbors.
Let’s honor the truth and validity of those who consider the 26th of January to be ‘Invasion Day’ by showing them the respect they deserve instead of getting all fired up simply because we feel as if we’re being “shamed” over the actions of the past.
The only in which the actions of the past can ever continue to cause us shame will be if we continue to deny and vilify our fellow countrymen for feeling differently about Australia Day.
As I’ve said before, we are not responsible for the past but we are responsible for the present.
So I’d love to see every Aussie donning the colors of the Aboriginal flag somewhere on their body, in support and recognition of Indigenous Australian’s on Australia day.
To me, that would truly be proving Stan Grant’s words that “we’re better than that”, right.
#AustraliaDay #IndigenousRights #InvasionDay #StanGrant