Today was Australia Day, marking the landing of the first ships in NSW. People celebrate being Australian today, and everything that means. Multiculturalism and just the Australian way of life are what people look to when celebrating today. And when I say ‘celebrate’, I mean ‘celebrate’! The fireworks have only just stopped, and I’m currently nursing a food baby from this afternoon’s barbeque feast.
However, today is also a day that is remembered by the Indigenous population as one that shattered their culture and started the horrible journey that ripped them of their rights as the original owners of the land. Whilst I am not Indigenous Australian, I don’t quite understand what I’m supposed to be ‘celebrating’.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t spent my whole life recognising this day, but I don’t quite understand. I know that for some people, coming to Australia has given them freedoms and has allowed them many opportunities that they might not otherwise have had. But, we’re eating and drinking and having a good time while there are people in detention camps because they tried to escape to here from horrors that we hopefully may never know.
I also know that the day is about being happy that we live in a country where everyone is accepted. This also isn’t true for quite a few reasons. Gay couples are not allowed to marry, racism is still something that many experience everyday, yet people ignore these things when celebrating how great this country is. As someone who is bi-racial, I can tell that I had never experienced racism before I came here.
All of this sounds like I really don’t like Australia, but the opposite is true. I love Australia, I’m glad that my parents brought me here because I have been given opportunities and have been about to experience things that I otherwise would not have. The people are amazing and it really is a great country to live in. I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t celebrate being Australian until some of the things that define being ‘Australian’ are made to be better.