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Why Australia Day makes me anxious

by Darryl Bellotti 4 January 2014

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hristmas has passed ... New Years has come and gone ... My birthday is coming ... Sounds like a lot of celebrating ... But just like many other Indigenous people in this country, the dark spectre of the tail end of January looms overhead and shadows my thoughts. I must admit that I even have a slight anxiety coming up to the 26th. Australia Day, Invasion Day, Survival Day ... Call it what you will ... The alienation and worry of being an Indigenous Australian on such a day cannot be over emphasised. At no other time throughout the year do I feel like a member of such a small minority more than I do on Australia Day.

Darryl Bellotti was commissioned to design these coins titled Discover Australia - The Dreaming Series. They were launched at the Burswood Entertainment Complex in January of 2009.

The happy faces, the families on their picnic blankets, the Australian flags on passing cars, police on patrol, fireworks … Sounds like a wonderful day down at the local festivities … But deep down, I know that I am only one wrong look away from being on the pointy end of a volatile situation … Sounds overanxious or perhaps even a bit far-fetched … But it’s kind of hard to not feel the least bit awkward about the colour of my skin on such a day, when for every other day of the year I am followed around supermarkets and shopping centres by security guards, or have to be extra nice in public because I don’t want to live up to other peoples expectations; to be a ‘no

hoping Aboriginal’ that might steal a car or ask for money so I can go to the bottle shop … Never mind that I’ve achieved far more than any one of those people who quietly judge me just because of the colour of my skin. I know my history; the history passed on to me; that isn’t written in any book. I know the struggles that got me here to where I am today; the hardships my ancestors had to endure. I wonder ... Do all those faces lit up by the beautiful colours of the sky show remember? In the end, whether or not anyone else remembers is not the issue; as long as I do, that’s all that matters. I am the one to pass on the history of

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my people, just as you are for your people ... The history of them lives through us ... I remember ... and that’s what drives and inspires me. I owe it to my ancestors to try to be the best I can be. A day like Australia Day serves to remind me of who I really am and the kind of lasting legacy I want to leave for my children. Where we come from is important, but what good is knowing if we don’t plan for where we’re going next ...” Darryl Bellotti’s story. Born in the remote country town of Carnarvon in Western Australia, Darryl Bellotti went from drawing pictures of trucks, and his comic book heroes, to designing precious metal coins in honor of historical figures such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Queen Elizabeth II. Darryl (pictured) began his career in 1998 as a Graphic Designer and has since then, worked for design studios, printing

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companies, newspapers, and many other disciplines within the design industry. His experience as a mainstream designer continues to strengthen his talents and abilities. It was these unique skills that gained the attention of The Perth Mint. In 2006 they commissioned Darryl to create the historic, first ever Indigenous series of coins; Discover Australia - The Dreaming Series. The first ever coin series developed by one designer, the program is released over three years in gold, silver and platinum, to a total of 45 designs. Discover Australia - The Dreaming Series was launched at the Burswood Entertainment Complex in January of 2009. It was a turning point in Darryl’s career that would later open the door to many more opportunities for him to share and display his talents. A profile acquired through his

achievements has enabled Darryl to branch out into other areas and creative endeavors. Known today as not only a designer, but a mentor, public speaker, writer, and teacher; Darryl has unveiled plaques for memorial gardens, offered public relations advice for business, and is having an ever growing impact on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. Darryl is actively involved in many more endeavors throughout Western Australia. The respect that he has gained within the Indigenous community lead him to be selected, for example, in the development of the Yagan Memorial, in honour of the Australian historical figure and Nyoongar cultural hero. He is also a prominent figure in the art community in Western Australia.


Why australia day makes me anxious