DEBATE TO #CHANGETHEDATE Should we rethink Australia Day? Kelly Forbes discusses why we need to create a new day to celebrate. WHEN SHOULD WE celebrate Australia Day? It’s a simple question, and one that will no doubt be asked many times as we dip our toes into the new year. The call for culturally-inclusive celebrations has been heard, and small movements of change have begun, with many determined to recognise and respect the tragic history behind January 26. The Fremantle Council led the way, announcing an alternative event on January 28 (a move later blocked by the Australian Government). But the question of Australia Day’s significance
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remains unanswered. The debate is not about the celebration itself. We simply need a date that does not ignore the suffering that Indigenous people endured in order to recognise the formal colonisation of New South Wales by a bunch of Englishmen. With the advances we have made in recent years to promote multiculturalism and unity, we are now in a position to choose a national day of celebration that is not clouded by grief. Instead of a day of division, the Australia Day celebration and its ode to our freedom
and prosperity should sit equally with dates such as ANZAC Day – a commemoration of our harrowing journey and continued growth towards a strong and inclusive society. And, unfortunately, January 26 doesn’t offer this opportunity. While Australia Day currently enjoys convenient timing for a summer BBQ, it’s time to rethink when exactly our nation should be celebrated so that all Australians can enjoy it. With knowledge comes power to unite our spectacularly diverse nation – one sausage sizzle at a time.
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