Australia Day is a challenging day for me.
Growing up, it was a huge day of celebration. My favourite aunt has a birthday on that day (Happy birthday Glenda!) and it was the celebration of the birth of our country.
As time went on and I learnt more about the world I live in. I discovered it was not the day our national was born. It turns out that the Australian Aborigine is one of the oldest peoples on the globe so our nation was born far earlier. In fact, Australia Day was not a term used officially until 1935. Over more recent years, it has also been referred to as Invasion Day as for many of our indigenous peoples, it represents the day they were invaded.
For me, I am proudly and happily an Australian. But I feel conflict that our celebration is done on a day that causes others great pain. I am also embarrassed about some Australian’s who minimise that pain, ignore it or even worse, invalidate it.
I have no solutions but I do have hope.
The conflict continues to get coverage in all forms of media. So what that brings is discussion, conversation, education, awareness – and these have to be good things. Yes there are extreme opinions on both sides, and typically there always are, but through the discussion comes increased understanding.
In the work that I do in events, this conversation also happens around the Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country.
I didn’t truly understand what they were and was concerned it could political correctness gone too far. So I sought out an Aboriginal Elder and had a frank and open conversation with them. It was most enlightening. Now I am an advocate for the Welcome or Acknowledgement of Country to be in each program I host.
While it seems like a small thing, it continues the conversation and increases awareness. It usually takes less time than the announcement about mobile phones but deepens what it means to be an Australian. If you run events, I implore you to have a genuine Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country in your program.
While the discussion about Australia Day and the best day to celebrate it continues, I will continue to be grateful each and every day that I was blessed to live in this country and make each day Australia Day.
Better have a Tim Tam to celebrate!
PS Here is a fun advert for lamb that gives a fairly good summary of the last 250 years or so