If you are living in Australia or around Australia right now, you’ll be aware that there’s a bit of a debacle about whether the date of the undoubtedly funnest day of our year should change from 26 of January to basically ANY of the other 364 dates available.
26 January, 1788
According to History.com, on January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guided a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.
What’s the period of hardship, you ask?
Well, aside from shit soil causing starvation (which I’m assuming they actually meant by ‘period of hardship’) there was this other little matter of other people being on the giant island ol’ Phil came across.
The new colony thrives!
As the new colony is thriving and feeling all awesome (aside from starving), the old colony, A.K.A Indigenous Australians or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, are not.
You see, the Indigenous Australians managed for approximately 60,000 years on this land by the time Phil and his crew arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.
According to Australians Together, there were approximately 750,00 Indigenous Australians in Australia at the time of their arrival. In the 10 years that followed, it’s estimated that the Indigenous population of Australia was reduced by 90%.
The Indigenous Aussies were slaughtered and their children stolen from their parents (the Stolen Generation sound familiar?) only to be placed in schools to white-nise them (a totally official term) in an attempt to get rid of their languages and traditions.
Which unfortunately worked quite well.
The new colony also introduced diseases and food and alcohol which the Indigenous people were not accustomed to, that in turn killed a bunch of them off and gave others generations worth of problems.
Oh and of course, having weapons and all, the white people stole the Indigenous people’s land. With great ease, I’d say.
What would you do?
So, let’s say you were Indigenous and only a few generations ago, your ancestors were slaughtered, probably raped, their land and children stolen.
Now, imagine that the guys who did all that, well, imagine their current government was like, “Hey, on this day 150 years ago, our ancestors, the convicts, totally came here and kicked ass and stole this country and we should encourage everyone to throw some saussies on the barbie, put on their thongs, get some southern cross tattoos and celebrate!”
Because that is exactly how I would be seeing the situation if I were Indigenous.
I know what it’s like to have my people slaughtered and I could imagine that if people in Former Yugoslavia started to celebrate the day the Old Bridge in Mostar was bombed down – I would be pretty fucking pissed.
I would not celebrate.
I would mourn.
And mourn is exactly what Indigenous Australia does every Australia Day.
This is the thing, here’s the thing…
I LOVE Australia Day! It’s always been a GREAT day off when we all get together over the super Australian things like Triple J’s Hottest 100 (which has now been moved to a different day out of respect to Indigenous Australians).
It’s always been a day where I’ve surrounded myself with my nearest and dearest, had some beers, splashed around in a body of water and enjoyed this country for all the opportunities it’s afforded me.
But I guess that I never thought about how a casual day for me and my friends, is a day of remembering their dead for others.
So why should the date change?
Because the country celebrating a day that a colonization slaughtered, stole and displaced an entire people, a people who still mourn this day, is just a dick move.
Every year on this date we should be showing compassion and love for the history that had to be endured for our sake.
The Australia Day date should be changed because we are not the same people who colonized Australia in 1788.
We are from all over the world, most of us are first and second generations of Australians but we have built our houses and lives on the backs of people who lost theirs.
Celebrating this day isn’t something to be proud of. Every year on this date we should be showing compassion and love for the history that had to be endured for our sake.
And fighting the masses that are calling for the change, changing laws to protect a hideous date, establishing yourself as someone who stands by this history… well, frankly it’s just mean.
And it’s not kind.
Will I be celebrating Australia Day this year?
Yes, yes I will. I will celebrate what it is that Australia means to me. But I cannot hide the fact that I am a supporter of a fresh start and a celebration for all the people of this country on a date that we can all agree on.
Like May 8 because it sounds like Maaaaaate!
And if Maaaaate isn’t super dooper Australian, than honestly, what is?
Alright, I’m stepping off my pedestal.
Tell me – do you think the Australia Day date should change?
Happy long weekend, ya’ll! Be kind to each other.