Friday, January 27, 2012

Australia Day Makes Me Sad

I feel too guilty about the sadness suffered by the indigenous people of Australia to be able to celebrate the happiness that I feel about being an Australian on Australia Day. This seems like a sad state of affairs. Not to mention that Australia Day has been taken over by feral redneck nationalist inbred scum as some kind of rallying point for pointless racism and cruelty. It gives me the worst type of cultural cringe.

Australia Day is held on January 26th which commemorates the arrival of the first fleet. The percentage of Australians that have a link to the First Fleet is minimal. At the time of the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 census 23.8% of Australian citizens were born overseas. Then there is the 2.5% of Australians who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI), for which the day that Cook landed in Botany Bay is hardly something to be celebrated as it commenced an era of illness, removal from land, violence and death.

My neighbour who is Aboriginal said to me on the morning of Australia day, when he was lending me his whipper snipper that he 'only became an Australian in '67' which is the year that Australians resoundingly voted to include Aboriginal people in the census. He was very quiet and subdued. I want my fellow Australians regardless of race to be able to be happy and celebrate what a great country we live in. At the very least I think we could move Australia Day, move it to another day where we could all rejoice about the country which we are sharing regardless of improvements that we could make and leave January 26th as a day of remembrance or a day for reconciliation where we acknowledge the wrong done and being done to our indigenous population

If you take ethnicity out of the picture and you just paid attention to the statistics of the huge gap between ATSI Australians and the rest of the Australian population I'm sure that there would be much more of an outcry about the situation. Indigenous Australians die much younger than the rest of us, infant mortality is much higher and they constitute a disproportionate amount of those in jail... Elizabeth McKenzie Hatton wrote "The position of the remnant of the original owners of this land... is a blot on State and Church alike. The fact that certain aborigines are camped under petrol tins and without certain knowledge of where their next meal is coming from is a reflection of our boastful civilisation. We may claim that we are not responsible for the actions of the original British invaders who violated their homes, shot, poisoned, burned and mutilated the natives; but we can not claim immunity from the conditions existing at the present time, and what should not be tolerated for one moment longer than it will take to rectify matters." Those words were written in 1926!!!! but they could have been written yesterday for the relevance that they have to our current position.

I hope that in my lifetime I find it possible to celebrate Australia Day again because I love my country and I want to be proud of it.

P.S. I sent a more concise version of this to Julia Gillard :) and I think that the attack on her person on Australia Day was really reprehensible and didn't achieve anything for the cause.


Sharondoubleknit said...

Well said.

Kebeni said...

really well said Kat, I so totally agree with you

cdog said...

I will not celebrate Australia day untill the union jack is off our flag and we are a republic.