It’s the great debate we have every year – should we be celebrating our great country on the day that began the destruction of our First Nations cultures? Is a day of mourning really the right day for this celebration? Communities are still living with ongoing trauma resulting from invasion – from massacres, strategic attempts at genocide, abuse and bias.
In my opinion no. There are much better days to have this celebration. Moving it to a day where we can all celebrate doesn’t take anything away from anyone – all that would be happening is that we would be moving forward together, with respect for the real history of our country and acknowledgement of the journey that brought Australia to where it is today.
But while we wait for the people in charge to realise that there are better dates, there are some things we can all do to support First Nations communities and let the decision makers know that we want a more inclusive date to celebrate.
The lesson on our Wingaru Kids platform – “Moving Australia Day” – is all about this issue. As with all our lessons, we aim to give kids the information about why people have the feelings they do about the 26th of January so that they can develop their own views on the issue. The suggestions below will help kids explore the issue and see the debate from an Aboriginal perspective, a perspective that they may not previously have had the opportunity to explore.
1. Showcase First Nations resilience
This Invasion Day I encourage you to focus on First Nations resilience. Learn about our people, share our stories and showcase our wins. This includes our celebrities, of course, but also look at your local communities. There are First Nations people achieving goals, making change and demonstrating resilience and success in every Aboriginal community. It might be an Elder who provides guidance to the community, or a student who has had an education win or a professional who is leading the way in their industry. Reach out to your community – you never know who you will connect with!
2. Attend an Aboriginal community event
All around Australia, First Nation communities are hosting survival or invasion events; events that acknowledge the impact on our communities, celebrate our resilience and bring our communities together. Many of these events are open to the public and non-Aboriginal people are very welcome. Go along, meet the local community, enjoy the performances of our musicians and have a good feed.
3. Write letters of support about a date change to the decision makers.
If you see the benefits in changing the date, write to our politicians. The more they see that Australians are behind an inclusive celebration date, the more likely we are to get an inclusive celebration. Already, some State and local governments have made changes to the events they hold on this date. Let’s make this national!
4. Help educate
There are many misconceptions about the change-the-date debate. Part of supporting positive change is helping people to understand that we are asking for a new date not asking people to stop celebrating. You could help by highlighting the reasons why this is important. A true celebration of Australia should not exclude its original inhabitants!
5. Don’t feed the trolls
Trolls love this time of year and the distress they can cause, so try not to engage with them. I generally suggest people don’t read the comments as they are incredibly toxic. As an Aboriginal person, I find them overwhelming at times. But I also think that the comments on social media can be an eye opener – many Australians don’t see the ongoing racism that exists in the country but one look at the comments section on Australia Day media items and it is very difficult to deny or ignore the racism that exists. Support the First Nations people around you by acknowledging the bias they are facing and the impact of such bias but don’t provide a platform for the trolls to share their ignorant rhetoric.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.