THE debate as to when Australians should celebrate their national day – Australia Day, continues to gather momentum and remains a major talking point each year in the lead up to the day Australians currently choose – January 26.
Australians have a lot to celebrate and we are incredibly fortunate to enjoy a standard of life in a country so blessed with so many unique and natural wonders and places of beauty, and our nation is the envy of most of the rest of the world.
But the actual date that Australians choose as their national day of celebration and pride matters less than the fact that indigenous health and welfare standards are a disgrace and in dire need of practical solutions that deliver far better outcomes.
There are any number of polls that tell us a lot of Australians do not care what day we choose, and there are other options, but whatever date is chosen does nothing to mask fare more serious underlying, and
not so underlying, problems in the community.
It is a sad reality that so many indigenous Australians today live in squalid conditions more akin to those found in third world countries.
While politicians and bureaucrats point to the many billions of dollars directed into relevant programs and services as justification, these same people share some of the responsibility and blame for the less than acceptable outcomes we as a nation must lament.
It’s difficult to see Australians ever settling 100 per cent on one particular day to call Australia Day, and we are reminded of comments made earlier this week by prominent feminist Germaine Greer about how Australians have the wonderful ability to tinker around the edges of something and make a few minor adjustments so that they can convince themselves, and make themselves feel better, that they have actually achieved significant change. In short, changing the date Australians choose to acknowledge as
“Australia Day” will do nothing to resolve the bigger issues we share and must face as a community.
The controversy stirred up at this time of year in the lead up to January 26 needs to be channelled into the commentary and consultation processes around indigenous housing, around issues of domestic violence, around unacceptable rates of incarceration and equally poor standards of health and education.
As a nation, we need to resolve all these priorities, and the urgency and need to do so is far greater than that attached to changing the date we celebrate/acknowledge Australia Day/Invasion Day.
On January 26 we have a lot to celebrate and for that we should be immensely proud and grateful, and mutual respect and understanding can go a long way to helping ensure the day is less about a division in our society and a lot more about unity.
But until ALL Australians can celebrate Australia Day, whatever date is may be, the day will never be a truly national acknowledgement where we can all be proud, and all be as one.