Today was Australia Day, a day that many, including me, refer to as invasion day. For those who are not familiar with the day, it is a 24 hour celebration of the day that ‘the first fleet arrived in Australia’. But what it really marks is the start of a genocide, a day that was the first of many days filled with pain for the Aboriginal race. A culture full of integrity, and depth and so intricate, thousands and thousands of years culture, almost completely destroyed in a couple of centuries, starting from this day, 229 years ago. I am mortified by how people treat this day, celebrating a somewhat shallow culture that has taken the place of one that was so much more. Wearing the Australian Flag with what is thought to be pride, but is actually completely the opposite. People wearing our flag clumsily draped around their shoulders, or tied around their waist. Think about the people who fought and died under our flag. The people who fought for this country to be what it is today, and then for people today to wear it as an accessory, absentmindedly. Those people who fill up on beer and blur the line between patriotic and hateful. I was having a very interesting conversation with my friend, Sofia, and I decided to put her very words into this because I feel it somewhat describes how I am feeling.
“I think that it’s something that needs to be not only changed but spoken about more and taught to people from a young age and I guess it’s not really the younger people who are the problem, but it is the people who have been brought up to celebrate this occasion that make it how it is. Everyone doesn’t realise the pain and suffering that this day causes to the original land owners. There have been so many instances of inequality recently, and not necessarily in Australia, but elsewhere, and for us to completely ignore them, and to go on with the childish behaviour just isn’t fair!”
If people want to celebrate the birth of this country, they must stop and acknowledge the original owners of this land, to pay respects to them, past or present. That the genocide is part of Australian history, and there is no two ways to go around it. We mustn’t forget it, and we can’t forget it, so we must do all we can to mend the inequality that so many choose to ignore. Take a moment to realise the Aboriginal people weren’t taken off the flora and fauna list until the ’70s. That Aboriginal suicide rates and mortality is 3x higher than white Australians, and that so many are faced with drug + alcohol problems, homelessness, rape and we choose to ignore it. I am all for changing the date of Australia Day. To Wattle day, or Federation day. Just not today.