On Australia Day in 2009 I was working in Germany. I decided to send an email to my colleagues there to give them some explanation of the day. It was something of a task to write, because the day is not cut-and-dry happy: it’s fraught and loaded.
Here’s the text of the email:
26th January each year in Australia is named Australia Day. As with all public holidays in Australia, where the date falls on a weekend the following Monday is a public holiday. Today Australians will invite a group of friends to their home, a beach or a park to celebrate the day with a barbeque (BBQ) and plenty of beer. Or they will take their family to a community celebration, concert or parade being held in honour of the day.The day was originally a celebration of the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet and Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in 1788, and subsequent white settlement under government of the British Empire. Today it is celebrated as a national day ’embracing multicultural Australia’, and the idea is that it is a day not only to be celebrated by British-origin-white australians, but also by Indigenous Australians for whom the day was (and still is by some) considered a day of mourning, and for new citizens who emigrated from all over the world to help make Australia what it is today.
But now I think I didn’t quite capture what the day means, especially to Indigenous Australians 🙁
But, too, what about all the other horrifying things we are allowing and accepting and voting for as Australians: things definitely not to celebrate:
Here’s some links for you folks.
National Indigenous TV – What’s in a Name?
SBS News – on the differing views
Did you read and watch that last one?