Video Credit: Buzzfeed Australia
After spending a lot it time studying the position of Indigenous Australians in this country from first contact to now and their culture and heritage I believe 100% the date needs to be changed. The relationship between non indigenous and indigenous australians has always been one lacking respect. Upon first arrival there was an informal kill on sight policy (blatant genocide) regarding Indigenous Australians. The formal policy was paternalism, which saw them having to be taken care of and ‘shown the light’. Then there was the assimilation policy, which was an effort to ‘breed out the blackness’ (also genocide). Integration was a step in the right direction but that only came about in around the 70’s if not later. And now we rest in self determination, where the policy regarding the first people only now respects their ability to make choices and govern themselves. January 26th marks the landing of the first fleet. It marks the beginning of the frontier warfare that massacred a people for sport, it practically became a hobby. The mentality for genocide was also reflected in the official policies until around the 1970’s-1980’s. For more detail on Aboriginal Australian’s in history click here.
We now live in a society where the word reconciliation is thrown around a lot. Cambridge dictionary defines reconciliation as a situation in which two people or groups of people become friendly again after they have argued. In order to reconcile there must be a foundation of respect. That means we can’t just do things the way they’ve done before out of tradition. We can’t ignore what happened, because that impedes our ability to learn from it. An incredibly basic step towards building a foundation of respect is to change the date.
By changing the date we would together be acknowledging that when the first fleet landed on January 26th it was the beginning of disrespect, mistreatment and attempted genocide. It is acknowledging the fact that even though we ourselves did not massacre a people and try to do away with their culture, our predecessors did. It is acknowledging that there are continued systematic disadvantages for Aboriginal people in 2017 as a result of that. It is acknowledging that Aboriginal Australians really don’t have any reason to trust us when we have only abused their trust and never trusted them.
Changing the date is the beginning of a new Australia. One that respects its first people and hears their voice. It would be a unified Australia. It would be one that acknowledges their previous wrongdoing and promises to do better. It would be the beginning of an Australia I want to live in.