29 March 2021

Australia Day: published in the East Adelaide Herald last week.

It has been said that the date of this event/celebration should be changed to a more suitable date. Also that it isn’t the business of Council and that it should be left to other levels of government to do the research, to consult widely and make the final decision.

Nevertheless, l asked my Year 10 History class, as part of their studies on Human Rights what they thought as an assessment task. Everyone of them was able to articulate that the current day of Jan 26th was no longer suitable. They were then asked to research and then choose another date. So what did they choose?

Jan 1st : Federation: the day that Australia became a nation.

Feb 13th Kevin Rudd’s Apology for past government policy that allowed discriminative policy.

March 2nd: The Australia Act was passed that dropped all legal ties with the UK.

March 12th: Canberra named as Australia’s capital city.

April 11th: Abolishment of the White Australia Act.

May 26th : Sorry Day, an acknowledgment of mistreatment of Aboriginal people.

May 8th : Mates day with no other significant event.

June 3rd: Abolition of Terra Nullius through a High Court decision (Mabo v Queensland).

June 11th Racial Discrimination Act passed.

It is fair to say that each person was passionate about their choice and that there was no consensus from the group. They were also able to explain that we need a date that is inclusive of all Australians: not just Aboriginal people and those descended from Europeans but also immigrants of other races and different faiths. And hence the date chosen reflects this.

I agree, this isn’t the business of Local Government, but it is the business of everyone of us to work toward a suitable alternate date that celebrates the Australian nation we have become. A date that offends no-one and celebrates a turning point in our history whatever that may be?

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