#ChangeTheDate for Australia Day
Updated: May 4
26 January is toxic. It doesn’t represent the diverse, tolerant and kind Australia I know and am proud and grateful to belong to. Let's #ChangeTheDate.
Australia is founded on much more than a date when New South Wales was colonised by Britain 235 years ago. 26 January does not represent our beginning. Australia's post-colonisation history represents less than one per cent of human habitation of this continent. Australia has been here since the Dream Time.
For a nation that prides itself on equality, 26 January is deeply flawed. It insults First Australians. I want to celebrate our national day. But as an Aboriginal Australian I can’t. And so many non-Indigenous Australians feel the same. Nastiness is not an Australian value. It’s not something we pride ourselves on. Celebrating Australian Day on 26 January kicks First Australians in the teeth. No wonder Woolworths, BHP, Telstra, the University of Wollongong, the Australian Public Service and many other employers are giving staff the choice to work this 26 January and celebrate on another day.
Australia rejects classism and our national day should reflect this. The Australia of today and the future is not an insecure and Anglo-centric outpost. We have long grown up into a diverse, sophisticated Asia-Pacific democracy. Although we are a unique multicultural society, 26 January disregards the more than 50 per cent of Australia’s population who come from non-English backgrounds. It devalues these Australians by saying that they are less important than citizens of English descent.
If we care about our future, we should be tuning-in to our youth. My teenagers don’t see Australia as a British outpost. They have no interest in the United Kingdom beyond the ridiculousness of the Royal Family. They haven’t even visited the UK. But they have been to Ghana, Cambodia, Dubai, the US, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They’ve also crossed the Tanami, collected bush tucker in the Gibson Desert, swum with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef and walked in awe around the base of Uluru.
The blood running in the veins of Australia’s youth comes from every corner of the globe. This is what our national day should celebrate. An inclusive Australia. A confident Australia. An Australia that celebrates its diversity and reconciles with its Indigenous peoples.
The date for Australia Day has changed before. It can change again. Let’s choose a day we can all celebrate. One that unites us. #ChangeTheDate this 26 January and celebrate Australia on another day if you can.