• Emily Rigz

Here’s Why We Should Change the Date

Updated: Jan 26


Change The Date Australia Day
Image by DrawnByShaun

Changing the date doesn’t mean we (yes, all of us) can’t celebrate Australia for the things we love about it.


I’ve been thinking about Australia Day and the “change the date” debate.


On one hand, we have some who get that it’s kinda bad taste to celebrate Australia on the day that happens to also represent the annihilation of Aboriginal families, culture, way of life, literal lives etc.


On the other hand, people feel personally attacked that we might do a small thing to try and heal the insurmountable pain inflicted on the Aboriginal people.


Changing the date sheds a tiny bit of light on the travesty that was the English “settlement” and arouses a great deal of defensiveness among Australian people.


Hopefully most of us are aware of the intergenerational trauma that is experienced by Aboriginal people as a result of the English invasion of their land. If this is a foreign concept to you, well you should perhaps do some reading.


But something that I have personally never heard anyone talk about is the mentality of non-Aboriginal Australians when it comes to feeling threatened.


Do non-Aboriginal Australians have their own generational baggage (honest question)?


I mean, after said invaders did as much damage to the Aboriginal people’s way of life as they could, most of Australia was populated by the highly esteemed convicts of society…


Like so many other issues facing Australia, we have to deal with our psychological issues instead of what is simple, obvious, kind, scientific and progressive.


Another good example of this was the marriage plebiscite.


There was not one reasonable, kind or scientifically backed argument against equal marriage rights in Australia.


If we are being honest, what we were really dealing with was religious people desperately and angrily trying to preserve their dying way of life, at the cost of everyone else…as usual.


This is the thing that bugs me. Isn’t it just…manners? Have we forgotten what actually happened when Australia was “settled”? Is this topic really such an inconvenience to people?


What are we even saying!


“Yeah we all know about the attempted genocide committed by the English invaders in 1788 and the intergenerational trauma that Aboriginal communities are still dealing with today BLAH BLAH BLAAAAAAAHHHH. Shut the fuck up and stop expecting me to care”.


Do you really want to be that guy, or girl?


So, I thought it might be interesting to look at the arguments against actually just changing the damn date.


I personally don’t get it but it’s worth asking the question “what’s everyone so worried about?”.


It’s Just a Day (to you)


Changing the day won’t change what happened.


You know, there isn’t one solitary action that can help the healing of the Aboriginal people and healing certainly won’t happen overnight, sorry.


If you know anything about healing from trauma you will know that it takes time and a number of small wins along the way.


It might be just a day to you because it wasn’t your loved one/ family/ culture that was brutalised. It is, however, not just another day for the people who lost everything.


My advice is to learn some empathy before you imagine that “it’s just a day” for everyone.


Genocide Happens All Over the World, If It Wasn’t Us It Would Have Just Been Someone Else


The most popular argument against changing the date seems to be that "colonisation and attempted genocide has happened all over the world, so the fact that it happened here makes it irrelevant".


…really?


Is that how we tell right from wrong?


Here’s another example.


“That child is likely going to die from starvation so I might as well be the one who kills them as they will almost certainly die anyway”.


Does that mean killing the child is morally correct and you are absolved of guilt? And before you say that it’s not the same, I have, no shit, had people argue this exact point with me.


If you’re one of those people, you need to do some research into what a psychopath is.


But in the End, Isn’t Australia Better Off? (c’mon, you know you want to thank us for it)


Just say someone killed your family and as a result was able to invent a whole stack of new technology.


Would you look back on their deaths and go "thank God somebody violently murdered my family, now I have an iPad!".


Do you, deep down, believe the Aboriginal people should be thanking us for what happened to them? Because that’s what you’re saying when you say that Australia is better off.


Don’t Steal Our Culture!


Calm. Down.


Nobody is saying we can’t have BBQ’s and beer and listen to music and have a day off with family.


It’s ok.


There will not be any march of shame through the streets of Sydney, whippings, human sacrifices or abolishment of Australia the way that it is.


All the comradery will just happen on a day that is not January 26th.


I Didn’t Do it, Personally…


That’s right! Either did I. I was born exactly 200 years later. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t help now.


And that’s all anybody is asking.


Not for us to be flogged and believe that we are pieces of worthless shit with no real attachment to this country.


Just be a part of the solution now. Show kindness. Show that we understand and care about something that is a huge part of Australian history.


"We" Do Enough for "Them"


And this my friends, highlights how totally ignorant people are about healing from trauma.


It comes back to my previous point that this kind of healing doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over generations and it happens one small win at a time.


Weigh up both sides.


The cons:


1. Changing the date will mean we do all of the same things on a day that is not January 26th. We will all have to make a mental note of the date change.


The pros:


2. Increased empathy, kindness and understanding towards other Australians.


3. Help to acknowledge that the abuse was real (another necessary part of healing from trauma/ abuse)


4. Bridge the divide between “us” and “them”


5. Progress into a society more conductive to good mental health for everybody


Put simply: we can’t change what happened but we can choose to help now.


Thanks for stopping by amigos!

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