A guest post by Julie Jones (Webb) Lead Consultant, Educator and Trainer at Gumadah Byalla Spirits Talking.
Why do people with a 230 year ancestry get to tell me, with a 100, 000+ year one, that they are "over" the change the date debate because they are sick of things being changed to suit Aboriginal people. Welcome to the life Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people felt since 1788.
CHANGE THE DATE !!!
Because none, not one of us alive today are responsible for what happened on the beach at Gallipoli either but ANZAC Day is always, and rightfully, commemorated with a heartfelt, respectful and meaningful ceremony where we honor and acknowledge what so many soldiers died and fought for.
There are 360 other days to choose from, many that are relevant to the post 1788 history of this country.
The tradition of having Australia Day as a National holiday on 26th January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian States and Territories use that terminology to mark that date. Not until 1984 did contemporary Australia Day emerge. Not until 1994 was it celebrated on 26 January.
To those who make statements like that to my mob especially, but all others as well, I say this. If Australia day had always been this date, you would have some merit to your argument but it hasn't, whereas Jan 26th has always represented tragedy and trauma for Aboriginal people.
Australia Day July 30th 1915 initiated to actually raise money for WW1, July 28th 1916, July 27th 1917, even Aug 1917, July 1918 etc etc. The date varied and it was not even always Australia Day. It was First Landing Day, Foundation Day, Anniversary Day and was celebrated mostly in NSW as other States and Territories had their own dates.
So why can everyone be so patriotic about a date that is not steeped in tradition or true history but once again disrespect a day that for First Nation Peoples represents a day which cannot be changed for us.
Someone made a conscious decision to hold the day on Jan 26th, a day that decimated the Gadigal people, then other Dharug clans before annihilating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Culture all over this country.
I guess most only remember Australia Day being Jan 26th when the Nation comes together to celebrate or let’s be honest, for most, drink and get a Public holiday. Be honest at least folks. Are you saving a longstanding tradition or just not willing to acknowledge the inappropriateness because you would have to truly acknowledge people benefit today off the loss of so many. Keeping those heads buried in the sand and feigning patriotism as an excuse is a much easier moral conscience for people to live in I guess.
Be educated about the meaning behind, and history of, your supposed sacred day because rest assured my mob are.
Julie Jones (Webb) is a proud Dharug woman, working everyday to share culture and foster respect for Aboriginal Australia amongst communities. You can follow Julie's story on the Gumadah Byalla Spirits Talking facebook page.
I love the excitement in the air at this time of year as teachers and students start to make their way back to school, ready for a year of learning. The possibilities of new skills, relationships and information are endless and as a parent, watching my kids come home with new knowledge to share is something I really look forward to.
Last year, I got to experience this from another perspective, that of an educator. I loved watching kids learn about Aboriginal culture and the struggle Aboriginal people have faced since colonisation all those years ago. It’s amazing how quickly young minds with keen senses of justice form opinions and seek information about how they can make a difference. I received emails from both teachers and parents sharing questions of kids who thought outside the box and were hungry for more information. I could see the impact of Wingaru Kids in changing the way we as a society think about Aboriginal people and the beginnings of the next generation having access to information that previous generations did not have. As Kev Carmody says, from little things, big things grow!
This time of year also means the ‘Australia Day debate’ is at a peak. Social media and homes around Australia are filled with strong opinions about whether or not it is appropriate to celebrate our great nation on a day that signifies the beginning of loss for our First Nations.
The debate gets heated and I feel the intent of the ‘change the date movement’ gets lost in political agendas and the passion that Aussies feel for our country. There is a lot of misinformation, making a complex issue even more confusing for kids who are hearing these conversations and trying to work out what it is all about.
Like most contemporary issues, the debate often makes its way to the classroom, leaving teachers to help kids sort through the issue and support them to form their own opinions about the day. Kids will likely join the debate mirroring their parents’ views without understanding the issue or why we are even debating the issue so strongly. After all, to many people, especially young minds, Australia Day is just about having a BBQ with our friends, isn’t it?
Wingaru Kids has a lesson to support teachers discuss this issue with their classes. Like all our lessons, there is a curriculum linked lesson plan, video, digital activities and classroom printables to help classes explore the issue, consider both sides of the debate and develop informed opinions about the issue.
We also have this free fact sheet to help sort the facts from the media hype and help students and teachers discuss the issue.
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.