Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)


Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)


Article excerpt

EVERYBODY loves a long weekend. Surely it's a core Australian value.

There's only a few "holy days" left on the calendar. As visible participation in organised religion declines in Australia there seems to be an increased reverence given to these few occasions.

The two that spring to mind are Australia Day and Anzac Day.

Indeed if you pop along to your local church you will probably notice that the secular "holy days" have forced their way on to the local religious calendar as well.

Having national days of celebration is a good thing. At their best they create a sense of community, identity and shared humanity, not to mention an extra day off work!

Every nation needs stories of our past, ways of expressing what we value and who we are.

The one area of danger in "holy days" is that sections of the community are excluded or completely ignored.

The recent t-shirt debacle which had supermarkets take the "Australia established in 1788" clothing item off the shelf is a case in point.

I'm not sure if it was racist, but it was certainly very poor history. It ignored more than 40,000 years of human society in this continent.

A more accurate date might have been 1901, when the colonies joined together to make one Commonwealth.

I still believe that we need to find a date that doesn't offend a significant part of our national community, the descendants of our First Peoples.

It's not about being politically correct. It's just about having respect. And let's be honest; most of the country couldn't tell you what actually happened on January 26, 1788 anyway.

Most official ceremonies held next Sunday won't go anywhere near it. Many believe it is when "Captain Cook discovered Australia".

I'd settle for the last weekend in January, but let's not get hung up on the 26th.

It's also time to finally remember and recognise a number of our Aboriginal ancestors who fought and died defending their country.

The frontier wars between white settlers and Aboriginal nations are a historical fact. …

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