Artist: Mona Mckenzie Represented by Jitta Art
Anyone who knows me knows I love being Australian and, in the past, celebrating Australia Day.
I mean it stands for something, doesn’t it?
Larrikinism, mateship, openness, generosity, friendliness, giving a helping hand.
And as mates, if one of us is suffering we do everything we can to help out.
So, as a proud Australian, I want to celebrate everything that is great about being an Aussie but more and more I am tuning in to the suffering of our first people.
This year, while making my documentary “No Shortcuts” I started to get a small glimpse into the fragmentation of lives that these people have suffered at the hands of their fellow Australians.
And as the sun sets over a day of appreciation of the gifts of this great land I no longer think it’s necessary to make one group of our country relive the pain of the past over an arbitrary date.
Surely Australia Day should be for ALL Australians?
For me, sitting on the water watching all the hullabaloo go on around me it no longer made me proud. It made me sad.
I started to reflect on and give respect to the original custodians of this land and their customs. Especially the Gadigal people on whose land I live.
I thought about their art, their heritage, their stories and their pain.
I begin to understand the deep connection they have to the land and to their mob.
As an adoptee, I have an understand of what it is like to not know your birth parents, but I cannot know what it was like to be taken against your will from someone who loved you and wanted to care for you.
I mourned for those mothers, those children.
And I felt sad because of the small mindedness of the people, people like me, who undertook those acts of savagery, even if they thought they were doing good.
So, while I struggle with some aspects of our relationship with our indigenous mates, I cannot help but think it is time for a change of date for Australia Day to bring us together as a nation.
If a date change for Australia Day will help us all heal, I’m all for it.
You will never see me at a protest march – I just don’t believe in them. But this is the last year I will celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January and, I will stand in spirit with my Aboriginal brothers and call it Invasion Day.
In the end, we are all here to stay, and that’s not going to change. But we have to find a way we can all live in and enjoy the bounty of this great sun drenched land of ours.
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Written by Peter Spann
© Copyright: 2017 Peter Spann – All rights reserved