Depending on your cultural background and experiences it could differ widely from my meaning – it means so many different things to so many people. For me, it’s a day to appreciate even more how grateful I am to be born in this country and to have the right to own land, safely vote, a pleasant environment, and never be concerned about not being allowed back into my country. It must be devastating to not be able to safely return to your homeland, and to experience it as a warzone.
I love our cultural diversity and the richness it brings to our society. I’m 5th generation Australian, with a combination of English, Irish, French, German and Chinese way back. Born with the travel bug, growing up I used to wish my parents had been born somewhere more interesting! My partner of 11 years is German, so I do now get a multicultural family fix.
For me it’s a day to acknowledge in my heart the horrendous treatment of our indigenous people. It’s a shameful part of our nation’s history, and I believe it’s important to focus on building a better future, supporting healing and integration of traditional and modern identity. To that end I don’t see the sense in changing the current date of Australia Day. For the majority, over the past couple of decades Australia Day has become a celebration of the end of the holiday season, a return to normal work life, a fun community day, and a day to welcome new Australian citizens rather than a celebration of colonization. So many atrocities happened over the last two centuries it would be impossible to find a “clean” date to replace 26th January.
Let’s focus energy instead on making our country a better place for all. Where all can feel safe at home and on the streets. Stop the domestic violence and substance abuse by dealing with the issues underlying them. Make it safe to speak up, to escape, with pets too. Teach our children self-respect, respect and tolerance for others and our environment. We have a beautiful country, so let’s ensure we look after it as well as ourselves. Of course, all change must start with ourselves, clearing our own pain, filling our own emotional wells so we have enough to share with others. Heartfelt connection, generosity, and tolerance.
Oh, and also on my wish list: I would so love us to have a flag without another country’s flag on it. Remove the Union Jack and leave our Southern Cross – it’s been shining over our land since it formed.
Whatever this day means to you, I wish you health and happiness.