I have just experienced my first Australia Day — 26 January is the day in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived in Sydney. But it’s significant that Aboriginal people call Australia Day, ‘Invasion Day.’
And an Aboriginal man, Adam Goodes is Australian of the Year. He’s an outstanding AFL footballer whose mother was a member of the Stolen Generation.
Australia Day marks the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney laden with convicts and Britain’s claiming of Australia as a colony. If it falls on a weekend then the Monday is a public holiday.
It is a day marked with many public events – outdoor concerts, barbecues, jandal and gumboot throwing contests,etc, and big fireworks displays around the country in the evening.
The day also brings the Australia Day Honours list and the announcement of the Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero of the Year.
Aboriginal role model
Goodes in his acceptance speech has said he is a ‘very proud Indigenous man keen to fight racism in Australia.’
He said he found it hard to acknowledge the celebratory notion of Australia Day ‘because of the sadness and mourning and the sorrow of our people and cultures that has been lost to me through generations.’
Goodes is also determined to fight for the constitutional recognition of Australia’s Indigenous people. He said: “There’s nothing in the [Australian] constitution right now that says Aboriginal people are the First Australians. It isn’t about us wanting our land back and it’s not about wanting compensation, it’s about wanting recognition we were the First Australians.”
The Prime Minister has pledged to introduce a Bill to Parliament recommending an amendment to the constitution. Watch this space!