Monday, January 24, 2011

Australia Day, celebration or mourning?

Australia Day by the Yarra River, Melbourne, 2009. Photo: Julie Clarke

I was prompted to write this after reading Lauren's post and I applaud the fact that she's placed the Australian Aboriginal flag on the blog as a kind of protest against celebrating 26 January ~ the arrival of the First Fleet and the disintegration of Australian aboriginal culture in 1788. We can't change the past but we can do everything in our power to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities and the same access to health services, education, housing and employment. I understand that many Indigenous Australians consider Australia Day to be a day of mourning, whilst others perceive it as an opportunity for reconciliation.In 2009 I attended an Australia Day event held alongside the Yarra River, Melbourne and I took the photo above because it shows Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike (including many multi-cultural Victorians) all enjoying each others company, the ambiance, the music and great weather. And from somewhere quite close I could hear the strains of We are one, but we are many as children and adults waved tiny replicas of the Australian flag. Of course none of this sentiment and flag waving can change the fact that the Australian flag is saturated with our racist past and historical injustices to Indigenous populations and peoples of other nations. Short of removing the Union Jack on the flag or moving Australia Day to another suitable day, I'm not really sure what we can do, for there are many who see the Australian flag as representing the people who have fought for our nation and liberty, for the opportunities that Australia has and will continue to provide and the struggle and achievements of ALL those who live in this country.

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