Thoughts on Australia Day

Kamisah Bin Demin is one of our deadly black&write! OnScreen Editing Trainees.  In this post she shares some thoughts on Australia Day.

 

A country’s national day is one that should celebrate its unity and strengths. I don’t believe that January 26th, the date marking the arrival of The First Fleet is such a day.

The 26th of January 1788 was the day Captain Arthur Phillip took possession of the Australian mainland in the name of King George III.  Doesn't quite sound appropriate for that unique Australian identity everyone seems to grasp onto. What significance does this date have on our ideas of mate-ship and being fair dinkum? In my opinion it’s a date that simply signifies our ties with England and is symbolic of the original invasion of Australia.  In my opinion, a completely inappropriate date, irrelevant to the Australian community, and understandably offensive for many Indigenous Australians.

The 27th of May 1967, is the day that I would choose as Australia Day. This was the date when it was announced that over 90% of Australia’s non-Indigenous community voted to give equal citizenship rights to the Indigenous people of the country. This is truly, in my eyes, a symbol of unity, proof that Australia has in fact come a long way from where it began with the First Fleet. It is a day that reflects positively on the entire community, and one that each and every one of us should be proud of.

It is my strong belief that the future of our beautiful country is highly dependent on what we as Australians see as most important to us as a nation, and I can only hope that equality and respect are as high on everyone else’s agenda as they are on mine.

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I certainlly agree that Jan. 26th is the wrong date for Australia Day. Apart from the indigenous issues I believe that on that day Gov. Arthur Phil planted the British Flag at Sydney cove and declared this land of NEW SOUTH WALES to be part of the British Empire. It could thus be argued that it is NSW Day. It wasn't until June 6th 1829 when the SWAN RIVER COLONY was founded that all of the continent came under British rule. While May 27th is a good choice , I believe that there are earlier days which are more appropriate, January 1st (1901) perhaps, when the Colonies joined to form the nation of AUSTRALIA., but that would mean going without a holidy, and we can't let that happen. My suggestion is some day (and it would take a panel of Australians to chose the particular day ) associated with the first known circumnavigation of the Australian continent. Why? you ask. Firstly, it was Matthew Flinders who first suggested the use of AUSTRALIA to call the continent, but more importantly, It was not just Flinders's voyage. By just himself representing the government of NSW the voyage would have been doomed, so Flinders took with him with Government approval, his friend and advisor, Bungaree (or whichever of a number of spellings you chose). For many of the First Nation's people encountered on the voyage, Bungaree was considered to be the expedition's leader and Flinders did not try and inform them otherwise. Therefore, The Flinders/Bungaree circumnavigation of Australia was the first officially sanctioned cooperative venture between a representative of the NSW Government and a person representing the First Nations. I rest my case. It does however bring me to another issue which if corrected would be another small step in reconciliation, and that is that while there are many statues of Flinders scattered across our nation, there are NONE of BUNGAREE. It is my belief that this should be rectified by erecting a suitable one alongside the first Flinders statue which is adjacent to the NSW State Library in Sydney. Another big issue in reconciliation is THE FLAG To me all this arguing over a new flag overlooks how a simple modification to the existing one would solve much of the debate. simply slice the Union Jack diagonally, and replace the upper flagpole half with the same diagonally split portion of the flag that has come to be accepted as representing all Indigenous people of Australia. So there you have it, my views on some aspects of Australia Day. I have a few other issues on our nation's future I'd like to comment on but this is not the forum. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am an 80 year old male Australian of British Origin, some several generations ago