As a proud Australian, I could not let Australia Day go by without posting something.
Sadly, I have spent a week wondering what I could post that I haven’t posted before – and that wouldn’t offend somebody. If I talk about pride in my British heritage, I may offend some Indigenous. If I concentrate on the very real injustices that occurred when the British first settled in Australia, I may annoy some white people. And so many other topics that I could offend someone – you know what I mean.
And this makes me really sad. I love my country. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. My family were both sent here in chains against their will and chose to settle here for a chance to improve their lives. If I was a First Nation person in the late 1700s and into the 1800s, I would be really annoyed too. I would be annoyed that my ancestral land for thousands of years was taken over by strange people who ripped up my native foods and planted weird plants – and wouldn’t share. I would be annoyed about the members of my family who died as either a direct result of violence or from disease that came with the new settlers. I would also be annoyed if I was sent from my native land across the world, never to see my family again. And I would be annoyed if I was expected to work for long hours for no pay and often harsh treatment. I would also be annoyed if I was a woman who found herself in the position of marrying or staying in the Female Factory.
But all these things happened in the past. We need to work on our future. And I’m genuinely sorry if this offends opinion someone. I don’t mean it to.
I decided that the best way for me to post for Australia Day was to present the viewpoints of two Aboriginal leaders I admire about Australia Day.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
I admire Jacinta so much. She is one of those people that just makes so much sense to me. (I hope she doesn’t mind that not only did I steal a photo from her Facebook page, but also her ‘About’ section):
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is a Warlpiri/Celtic woman but Australian first. As a campaigner against family violence, sexual abuse and for cultural reform Jacinta is known for being outspoken and unafraid to tackle the hard issueshttps://www.facebook.com/JacintaNPrice/about/?ref=page_internal
One of those hard issues that Jacinta is outspoken about is the suggestion that the date of Australia Day be changed. Essentially, she believes (as I do) that 26th January is the day that started the journey to the country we are today. It doesn’t glorify what happened to the Aboriginal people following that date. It is simply the date that the British arrived and raised the flag.
To read her stance on the matter in detail, have a look at this NITV (National Indigenous Television) article from 26th January 2018 entitled: ‘Jacinta Price: ‘People aren’t celebrating the fact that Aboriginal people have suffered‘.
You can find more information on Jacinta herself, including her beliefs, on this Tourism Central Australia page.
Nyunggai Warren Stephen Mundine AO
More commonly known as Warren Mundine AO, he describes himself as: “Author, commentator, business adviser. Yuin, Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr.” He has also been involved in politics, originally as a member of the Labor Party, and then as a member of the Liberal Party.
While Mr Mundine has a different opinion to me about changing the date of Australia Day (he thinks we should), he believes that there are more important things that need to be dealt with first to improve the lives of First Nation people in Australia. You can read more about his opinion on this topic NITV (National Indigenous Television) article from 23rd January 2019 entitled: ‘‘A hundred things’ to fix before Australia Day, says Warren Mundine’.
Australia is now a multicultural country – very different to the country it was before 26th January, 1788. Let’s have the debate about Australia Day in good faith and with good manners. And, while the date remains as it is – let us all celebrate the wonderful country we live in the the contributions that all members of society can make and enjoy.
Happy Australia Day!
Kerry A Waight - Author
A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.