A recent letter to the City of Greater Bendigo regarding increasing concerns at how our nation celebrates a national holiday on January 26 is likely to be the catalyst for much discussion and debate.

How, when and why we acknowledge all of our past will always be incredibly complex, but our nation also needs to make some dramatic inroads into some of the modern day issues and challenges we share a responsibility for.

The issue of how and when Australia celebrates its national day has long been a bone of contention, but shifting the date risks further alienation and disenchantment of more Australians.

Perhaps a greater effort to improve the standard of living for more Australians, and particularly indigenous Australians, would be a much better point to focus on, and would certainly go a long way
towards creating a nation where the riches and benefits of living in such a wonderful country can be more equitably shared and enjoyed.

Australia stands condemned for the rates of incarceration among indigenous people, as well as mortality rates, health standards and other issues related to housing, education and employment of indigenous peoples.

Political solutions to many of these challenges have floundered, while in other instances progress has not been what was needed.

It’s hard to move forward when issues from the past remain largely unresolved. 

When then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued an historic national apology to Australia’s indigenous peoples back in 2008, he invoked calls for a future that harnessed the determination of all Australians “to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

“A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

“A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.”

Mr Rudd said Australia must turn a new page and right the wrongs of the past so that as a nation we can move forward with confidence to the future.

Fast forward 11 years and sadly, too little progress has been made.

A further circumstance that is now under consideration and hopeful resolution is the constitutional amendment required to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in such an important document for our nation.

It’s a welcoming sign that Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt has agreed to work with the federal opposition to find a way forward on constitutional recognition, with hopes Australia will hold a referendum within the next three years to achieve such a worthy goal.