Australia Day: Survival day

One of the sixteen goals of Australian Real Progressives is enshrining First Nations Voices according to the Uluru Statement from the Heart recognising their Sovereignty, a Makarrata (Treaty) commission and Truth-telling process and empower Aboriginal people to manage their own affairs through constitutional or legislative reform.  This is our approach to reconciliation.

Recently, Scott Morrison has opted to change the words of the current Australian National anthem from “we are young and free” to “we are one and free”* as a tokenistic measure to Australian’s first nations.  Does this recognise their sovereignty or empower the Australian Aboriginal people in any way? No.

In 2019 ANU’s Social Research Centre research shows that the 26th of January for Australia Day has notably lower support among the younger generations at 47% and 58% for Generation Z (aged 23 years or younger) and Millennials (24-38 years).  Whilst support for it remaining on the 26th of January is much higher amongst older Australians, including 80% of the baby boomers surveyed.  Anecdotal evidence from this year is largely in agreement with a preference of many not to shift Australia Day from 26th January.

As Michael Pascoe wrote in the New Daily:

Planck’s principle applies: Science (and society) progresses one funeral at a time.

This suggests it is only a matter of time before the day for Australia Day changes.

Joe Williams, a proud Wiradjuri/Wolgalu, First Nations Aboriginal activist and motivational speaker born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW, Australia has long been an advocate of changing three things – the date, the song, the flag – not for any other reason than that the current three don’t represent First Nations.

He recommends the following as the National Anthem:

Whilst not bad, there is still a touch of Auld Lang Syne in that tune, my personal preference is in another Judith Durham oriented song, I am Australian.

I came from the Dreamtime from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame
I stood upon the rocky shore
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I’d been the first Australian.

I came upon the prison ship bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I’m a settler.
I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man I became Australian.

I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I’m a child of the depression
I saw the good times come
I’m a bushy, I’m a battler
I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
I am, you are, we are Australian.

I find it to be quite inclusive.

If we were to change the flag, I would think we would have to return to a red ensign, the Aboriginal red with the Aboriginal flag representing sovereignty in the upper left corner.  I am much more partial to the blue ensign as a matter of personal preference on the colour palette.

This leaves us with a matter of a date change.

  • January 1 – when Commonwealth of Australia came into being
  • January 28 – Day Fremantle Council held Australia Day 2017
  • January 31 – keeps it in January, but away from January 26
  • Last Friday in January – we all just want a long weekend.
  • First Monday in February – we all just want a long weekend.
  • February 13 – Stolen Generations apology day
  • March 2 – Australia Act signed 1986
  • March 20 – Canberra declared Australia’s capital
  • 11 April – Whitlam abolished all notes of racism
  • May 8 – because it looks like “M8”
  • May 9 – when we became a self-governing federation in 1901
  • May 26 – National Sorry Day
  • May 27 – when Indigenous Aussies were included in census
  • June 3 – Mabo Day
  • 2nd Monday in June – Queens’s Birthday with a new name decided by the Aboriginal People
  • July 30 – the first Australia Day celebrated in 1915
  • September 1 – First day of Spring, Wattle Day
  • September 17 – Governor Arthur Phillip met with Bennelong and his wife to apologise for abductions Phillip had ordered in order turn his captives into translators
  • December 1 – First Calendar day of Summer

This is not an inclusive list of all possible options.  The standout for me is the Queen’s Birthday and replacing that sovereignty with another.

If these things move us towards reconciliation, as tokenistic as they appear, then Australian Real Progressives can support them.  These are but a few steps on a long journey to a multicultural, more inclusive Australia including recognising Australian Aboriginal sovereignty, a Makarrata (Treaty) commission and Truth-telling process and empowering Aboriginal people to manage their own affairs through constitutional or legislative reform.

*On a personal level, singing the word ‘one’ is much more difficult than singing the word ‘young’.

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