Leave Australia Day to the young!
Since I left school in 1957 I have not joined any formal Australia Day celebrations on 26th January.
I have thought and questioned how we can celebrate on a day of such sadness for the first people whom we have treated so badly. And how can we celebrate on a day which actually does not include states other than NSW? What date should we have?
But worst of all now how can we celebrate the act of welcoming new citizens to Australia if it is banned for Councils who decide not to hold such ceremonies on 26th January?
I have lived through the shameful “White Australia Policy” until Menzies more or less buried it and Whitlam removed it. I lived, with embarrassment through the “Dictation Test”. I lived through school days when some fellow friends and children from other countries were badly treated by adults even in schools. I saw stalwart individuals from overseas carve out lives in this country which should be an example to us all.
I lived through the Tampa, the “turn back the boats” saga. I have hung my head in shame at the treatment of refugees both in their exclusion from this country and their poor treatment both here and in our off shore refugee camps. I have occasionally worked with some of the children.
But this latest government act I cannot stand for. I would like to formally renounce my citizenship on Australia Day – but being a sixth generation Australian I have no other identity to claim.
Then I spoke to a younger person, a grandson who can now vote. My faith in the good sense of young Australians and what our future will be with the young making such decisions was renewed!
He suggests that Australia Day is a day to celebrate our future, not dwell on the past, and to party all together in our diversity, as one united nation looking ahead. We should not be remembering any old histories. We should all unite on a completely new, happy day. And he suggests choosing a moving day – one not tied to any date. As an example he suggested the first Friday in December. That would be the start of summer, a wonderful time in a wonderful country.
We will do well with the young at the helm!