Happy Australia Day!
I am GLAD to be Australian and proud to celebrate Australia Day. It was on this day over 10 years ago, that the official Certificate was handed to me.
I’m experiencing a little conflicting, bittersweet feeling about it though ever since a couple of years ago, when I worked for an outdoor entertaining company assisting with a mobile rock climbing wall and inflatables.
We were doing a gig at an indigenous event in a beautiful park in Melbourne with the climbing wall on Australia Day. It was a beautiful warm Summers day. We turned up all happy and ready for a fun day of entertaining with our usual Aussie flag attires for the celebrations….only to be told that the Australian flag was not welcome and appropriate for this event!
We looked at each other a bit puzzled, but took all our aussie flag pieces off out of respect and got into our usual job of setting up and opening up for the kids and willing adults to have a go.
Later during my break l went for a walk around the event, looked at some stalls, enjoyed the music and talked to some people there. As it turned out it was set up to protest against what the Australian government had done to their people and what was currently still being done.
I was aware of some bad actions that had happened during the early days of settlement of this country. I was also aware of some only a generation ago, but not that there was still so much injustice being done today! After all our government had officially apologized…and you don’t hear about it on tv or in the newspaper…I wonder how many people like me are out there?
This meeting made me think about it a lot and I felt sad that our indigenous people did not feel that Australia Day was a day of celebration, but rather a day of occupation.
Coming from a European background, where my parents almost had to change their language from Dutch to German around the second world war, l did understand their pain very well. In fact, so should all born Aussies for we nearly had to learn Japanese around the same time! I wondered what could be done to ease their burden and make a decent celebration, that I can be proud of, full of great traditions, that includes all Australians?
We pride ourselves on being a caring nation and helping each other out when push comes to shove, so why not do a bit more to help our nations original people?
The first thing that came to mind, was maybe cancel or reduce the elaborate fireworks that cost an absolute fortune, provided by our precious tax money, up in smoke, burned in about 10 minutes. Why not donate some of that to help them preserve what little of their culture is left instead? Or maybe some to finance events that encourage exchanges of culture between old and new Australians. We could learn a lot from each other.
If we really are such a caring nation we should maybe start thinking a bit more about the forgotten Australians and about what and how we are celebrating today. It appears on the official government website that there are activities happening to bring both cultures closer, maybe we should get more involved with that and really care?
What are your thoughts on this?