Friday, February 03, 2012

Australia Day

On Australia Day this year I did not don the flag, nor the green and gold, because I just don’t know what to think or feel about Australia Day anymore. I feel such conflict about the day, and the vibe about the day around the nation. I mean, what is it that we are celebrating?

It has seemed to have evolved into a day where bogans get their bogan on, by draping themselves with the flag, cape style. People, who I suspect also had reindeer antlers on their cars in the lead up to Xmas, have two flags positioned on their car windows.

What is Happy Australia Day really saying?

I don’t for a second consider myself unpatriotic. I’m anything but! I go to great lengths, and spend a lot of time and money, to support our cricket team and tennis players, and our musical talents, around the world and at home. I go out of my way to see Aussie movies, the good and the bad. I love all the amazing things that being Australian means: freedom to be who you want to be, the opportunities, the freedom to travel, the access to education, clean drinking water to wash our cars, and the possibility to work at owning a house and all that.

But I am constantly disappointed by the ‘Us v Them’ theme that continues in this country, throughout the generations. The “We’re Full” sentiments, the anti-asylum seekers and immigrants theme that fills people's dialogue and the press pages, the racial tensions and hatreds, the ignorance of each other in our community. The neglect and bigotry towards our Indigenous population. The blatant absence of tolerance.

Celebrating Australia Day, in it’s current form, seems to snub our multicultural richness, which is one of the elements that makes our country so great. But it also disregards the presence of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in such a bold and heartless manner. The day commemorates white settlers arrival on Australian soil, heralded as the birth of our nation. An annual stab in the chest for the millions of years of Indigenous culture and habitation upon the very same land. We are celebrating the Invasion Day, as it is often referred to.

I actually think this dilemma, rather than any issues with the monarchy or Queen Lizzie, et al, should be the antecedent for us to become a republic. To become our own nation, our own identity, as a whole nation, a whole people. We need to work through all this racial angst and identity crisis, this multi-culturalism mishmash and segregation, and the undercurrent of hate and distrust for anyone not deemed “Australian”. But we also need to do this to once and for all accept our Indigenous history, and our Indigenous people. Acceptance, unity.

Until this disgraceful blight on our integrated culture is mended, it will be Hottest 100 Day for me.

3 comments:

  1. Good post Tash. This year I too had mixed feelings about Australia Day. I did an Indigenous Studies subject at uni last year and it was a real eye opener for me. We know about colonisation and the stolen generations but I guess I hadn't really sat down and thought about how much our history has negatively affected Aboriginal people.

    I had an arguement with my dad about how Tony Abbot's comments were insensitive. My Dad also thinks Aboriginal people should "move on". I tried to explain to him why this was impossible.

    I would like to see Australia Day celebrated on another day of the year. I like the sense of community that most of us try to celebrate on the day but it shouldn't be on January 26th. It is a slap in the face.

    Btw, the term to use these days is colonisation rather than settling.

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  2. I think it is important that we don't allow Australia Day to be held hostage by the less than savoury elements in our society. It should be a time for celebrating the good things we like about Australia. I myself was getting a bit annoyed with the hijacking of our national holiday by bogans and the like, and was ready to abandon it as 'just another day', until my five year old son got a free flag at a drive though and began explaining to me why Australia is such a great place, and why he liked Australia.

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