Let’s Move Australia Day

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Australia Day

Let’s Move Australia Day

21 January 2015 Hits:18845

I want you to imagine something.  People arrive in your country and pretend that it’s not owned by anyone.  In fact they declare it “Terra nullias” – a Latin expression from Roman law meaning “land belonging to no one.”  They then proceed to set up their own colony, laws, rights and customs giving little or no thought to you – and others living in your country – and to your laws, rights and customs.  Have you imagined what that would be like? How did it make you feel?  Outraged I hope!

Well, that’s what began to happen to the Indigenous peoples of Australia on 26 January 1788, when the first fleet arrived from Great Britain.  Twenty years later, in 1808, are the first historical records of celebration occurring on that day – the day we now “celebrate” as Australia Day.

Timing is everything

Can you imagine how the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 could be an annual event that rubs salt in the wounds of our Indigenous peoples?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I believe we should have an annual day to celebrate this wonderful country. I just don’t think January 26 – called Invasion Day by some – is the best day to celebrate.

I love this country.  I’m so glad that my parents were bold enough to make the big move here when I was 12.  We were Ten Pounds Poms!  Mum and Dad paid 20 pounds and my sister, brother and I flew free.  I will always appreciate my parents for having the courage to leave family, friends and familiarity in the UK for the great unknown of Australia.  I love this country with all its diversity, warmth and welcoming; its freedoms, generosity and compassion.  And on the subject of compassion – it would be a good move if we demonstrated a bit more of it towards the original owners of this land.

In 1788 Australia was not a “land belonging to no one.”  It was inhabited by about 700,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who were made up from between 500 and 700 tribes.  The Aboriginals tried to protest the colonisation of their land but the Europeans either drove them from their lands or killed them, sometimes both.  Due to massacres, plus the introduction of disease and alcohol, the indigenous population decreased by almost 87% by 1900.  These are hardly things worthy of celebration.

Rethinking the day

Many dates have been suggested for Australia Day as an alternative to January 26.

Federation Day, 1 January which would also coincide with the celebration of the New Year; the opening of the first Federal Parliament, 9 May; the anniversary of the 1967 referendum, 27 May, with changes made that enabled Aborigines to be accounted for under federal law, and to be included in the national census. The event was a milestone in the recognition of Indigenous rights in Australia.  February 13 has also been proposed in more recent years in response to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation in parliament in 2008.  Another suggestion I heard recently was the Monday of the Melbourne Cup “Long weekend.”

Whatever the day I believe strongly that we need a national drive to move Australia Day away from January 26 out of love and respect for Australia’s original owners.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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32 replies on “Let’s Move Australia Day”

Karl Huntingsays:

Totally agree.

Somewhere between July and August would be best, given the lack of public holidays that time of year.
You could push the whole ‘increase in productivity’ agenda to keep certain politicians happy.

Chris Harrissays:

I agree Rob. I am also a migrant from the UK, and like you I love this country. When I first came here I thought it nice that Australia Day was celebrated and it seemed logical to hold it on that day. Recently however I heard the argument as you have outlined in your blog and ever since I have felt that the date should be changed.

Stephen Lutzsays:

Hi Rob,
I could not agree more. The fact we continue to celebrate “invasion day” is such an insult to our original inhabitants.

anthony stevenssays:

Surely the English who did not accept the aboriginal people also earlier didn’t accept the American Indians in the USA.
The English seem to have a what’s yours is mine attitude.

Kensays:

What a pity that you have used this well intentioned blog as a platform to make a racist remark Anthony.

Tim Hollinssays:

I find this comment a bit ignorant and misinformed. Firstly many nations through out the history of mankind have invaded other people groups not just the English. Also the working classes of England , Scotland Wales and Ireland. Suffered at the hands of a lmperlistic class well before any invasion of Australia. To label descendants of British people mistreated by their leaders as having the same mindset is wrong. World history and current world affairs show the intrinsic desperate need for Gods redemption by all people capable with a sinful nature. Also Christ clearly taught to forgive. Many many atrocities are accuring today across the globe. I believe a minister of Jesus Christ primarily should be concerned with preaching the Kingdom of God that is love and forgiveness. This call to forgive also applies to Indegineous Australians. We all have been abused and we all need to forgive as we are forgiven if we ask. Many British children where part of a stolen generation too! I think preach forgiveness pastor stick to the power of the gospel and not trying to be PC and trendy!!

Peter Campbellsays:

Hi Tim. I’m not a member of Bayside Church, nor am I affiliated with Rod Buckingham. These are my thoughts on the matter. While I agree that many atrocities have taken place around the world by “invading forces”, we (Australia) must prioritise and respond to the atrocities that have taken place in our own nation. It hardly seems enough to just apologise and tell our Aboriginal people to forgive and move on. Would that work for you? Forgiveness may be a step in the process, but it’s only a first step in many that should be taken to restore justice and balance that is still measurably skewed in favour of whites and against our indigenous peoples.

Loree Ruddsays:

Whatever was appropriate through unquestioning understanding of identity until now, as an anglo-Celtic convict descendant in Australia, I believe it is time for a new flag, new anthem & altered constitution to reflect a growing awareness of the pain caused by our ancestors taking possession of this land in the 18th Century in the name of the English monarch.
Fresh revelation requires fresh symbols including art, words, music & law. The Great South Land of the Holy Spirit embraces all cultures: ancient, colonial, penal, immigrant & Christ-centered legislative.
A new date for Australia Day could kick start the process … or adoption of amendments to the constitution giving equal honour & equal responsibility to the first peoples could coincide with new flag, anthem & Australia Day date – a package in which artists, musicians & legislators participate … including those still undiscovered.

Karensays:

Unfortunately we are looking at history with modern eyes. Yes – colonisation is now considered evil, but it was acceptable in the time that it was done. I should not be forced to feel guilty because my Grandparents chose to make Australia their home (they arrived long after 1788). We cannot change the past – we have publically said sorry – it is time to embrace and move on in love. Changing the date will not change history – just saying.

Peter Campbellsays:

Karen – we can’t alter that past, but we can place the past on the altar. There is much we still need to do to reconcile with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters who are hurting. The national apology was a beginning, not the end. By the way, please check with Mr Google on past dates that have been used to celebrate Australia Day and then tell us again why the date can’t be changed?

Christabell Butlersays:

I was under the impression Australia was called ‘Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo’ – the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit….but the point remains, we do need a different day. That name was given in May 1606. Perhaps we could use that.

craig bennettsays:

I think its a good date to remember – Many women, children, men were ripped from their homes and transported here in shackles. I don’t have the figures; but, I understand that as many convicts were killed / died because of deliberate poor treatment as there were aboriginals.

The shape of Australia was changed forever through dispossession. I also add, that my wife and her family are indigenous. My mil, is part of the stolen generation, and so the horrors of indigenous treatment is close to home.

We believe that the reconciliation movement in Australia is lopsided in that it doesn’t talk about forgiveness. Many indigenous pastors also believe the same and a push in that direction has started within.

I believe we have to learn from the past, live in the now, and work towards the future.

Roger Bustsays:

I am with all of you on this one. I have met culturally desensitised people who call it “Invasion Day” when it is not. It was a “land grab” or takeover. Lt Cook disobyed ordereds doing what he did. He was only allowed to claim it if not inhabited, which he clearly saw wasn’t the case.
Anthony and Chris are correct.

Stephen Yarrowsays:

I disagree with your argument as I see things from a totally different perspective. The “change Australia Day” argument presumes that the first European settlers came here of their own free will with the intent of invading and taking over a land that didn’t belong to them (that is what invaders do).
That is not what happened so that is not what Australia Day celebrates. Those first European settlers were in fact convicts, who did not come here of their own fee will, but were brought here and forced to live here in a place they didn’t want to be. Furthermore, their English overlords all went back to England after their 3 years of duty was completed, leaving those who didn’t want to be here and those who didn’t want them here (the indigenous population) to make the best of their bad situation. And that is exactly what they did. Out of their determination to turn their bad situation into something good emerged those wonderful characteristics of the Australian pyche – mateship, eternal optimism (“she’ll be right, mate”, the Aussie larrikin), giving things a go, tolerance of others, a willingness to give a helping hand to those who are down on their luck – characteristics that today attract migrants from all corners of the globe and make Australia one of the best places in the world to live. Modern day Australia is what it is today, and modern day Australians are who they are today because of what happened on 26th January 1788 at Sydney Cove, so what better day is there to celebrate them than 26th January?

Robsays:

All partly true, but who committed the massacres? Only those who returned to England?? Or possibly some who stayed. The convicts may not have started the invasion, but many would have participated in it actively or passively. Much to celebrate in this land, but why do it on a date so closely associated with disempowerment and dispossession?

John McCrackensays:

I like it where it is we ate always trying to appease some section of the community. No different now we are changing our way of life to help Muslims in there ambition to take over this nation I love

Robsays:

Appeasement can also be viewed in some circumstances as learning to value other people, their feelings and perspectives – particularly when different to our own. Love others as you would have them do to you. Perhaps compassion is a better word than appeasement in the situation of Jan 26?

Peter Campbellsays:

Oh John dear, I have never me a muslim, a gay person or any of the other groups you may have issues with who are trying to take over Australia. Just think about that the next time you have a souvlaki or a felafel or a gelato, or a pizza, or…

Sandrasays:

You can’t seriously think that changing a date will make any difference? From your argument there will always be resentment and offense at what happened if that is the viewpoint. Changing a date will not change that, it has to be an issue of the heart from the indigenous viewpoint.
In 1998 a team of British Intercessors came to Australia at the Lord’s direction. Along with Australian Intercessory Team from Australian Prayer Network they visited every site in Australia where there had been a massacre, asked forgiveness of the Aboriginal people and prayed on those sites. They were accompanied by Indigenous pastors. Unfortunately most Christians would not be aware of this as they are not very interested in prayer and intercession and Intercessors have been relegated to the back door of importance in the modern church.
The arrival of the British here in this country, (whilst many things about it were wrong and much has already been done to correct that) was used by God to bring the gospel to this land. Aboriginal tribes had much inter tribal warfare, witchcraft, superstition and pointing of the bone and death at the time and it was not utopia as often touted.
It has been prophesied that revival in Australia will come through the Indigenous people first. It starts with their taking accountability, accepting forgiveness and moving on (as we all need to do), with elders in their communities taking the lead and also dealing with the dreadful sexual abuse etc that is rife within and not forever blaming the white man. John and June Blackett run Khesed Ministries and are doing amazing work with our indigenous brothers and sister. There are some truly wonderful Aboriginal pastors, men and women who are also making a huge difference. Prayer movements are also very strong.
On the secular side, there are some wonderful movements amongst the young people e.g. Generation One led by Tania Majors who are also looking to the future and not back to the past. They are determined to step into a place of dignity and respect. With education, determination and a letting go of things that cannot be changed, things can be turned around without white Australia forever having to suffer guilt as is epitomized often through Ten Pound Poms and others who have come from England.
We all need to hear clearly what our part can by as the Holy Spirit reveals, not just what is a ‘sound good, feel good’ attitude which ultimately, really changes nothing.
I say that with much sincerity and heart-searching we need to tune in to Holy Spirit solutions, not just ideas from our own spirit. God bless you.

ANDREWsays:

I wonder how the aboriginals would have fared if the Europeans weren’t here to protect them against other colonisation forces.

Lindasays:

Yes, but even take a look at how the Native Americans fared with the Spanish.

Davidsays:

I disagree with your blog about moving Australia Day and I meant to write to you at the time. We were in Mansfield on the Australia Day weekend and you should have seen the hundreds of 4WDs and cars and shops and houses etc with Australian flags flying from them. This is a great display of patriotism and love of country and I don’t think any of these people are being insensitive to the Aborigines. They just love the country we all live in. To change the date of Australia Day is like changing the flag. It would dilute the patriotic feeling. I think Rob Buckingham is white-anting our national pride.

Peter Campbellsays:

From an SBS article David. The many dates used to celebrate Australia Day.

Australia Day – 30th July. The first ever official national day that was actually named ‘Australia Day’!
Australia Day – 28th July. …
Anniversary Day – 26th January (NSW) …
Hobart Regatta Day – 1st December (TAS) …
Foundation Day – 1st June (WA) …
Proclamation Day – December 28 (SA) …
Australia Day – 26th of January.

You can Google it yourself. Don’t you think it’s a bit simplistic to equate patriotism to fervent flag waving/flying and a date that has been quite fluid in the past? I love Australia a lot and I’m proud of many of our achievements, but we are also a country with many injustices, past and present, that I am ashamed of and these need to be put right.

Pastor Tony Richessays:

I don’t want to see any anger in this issue but it seems that a gesture of reconciliation so simple as changing a date causes that to happen far too easily. I shared some of my thoughts in a message in 2014. If anyone would like to spend a little more time thinking through the issues from a Biblical perspective here is a youtube clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18TQsw80ki8

James Parsonssays:

There needs to be more. A treaty recognizing first Australians.

But in all this, the aboriginal community actually needs to be asked what they want. For too long white people have been telling us what they want and it’s not been too successful.

After this there will still be much to do. Great wrongs have been done, but perhaps with this in place, all can move forward, celebrate the day of this new treaty and make a fairer, kinder Australia for all our children.

Ken Sprakesays:

Hi Rob,

Couldn’t agree more. We should celebrate our Nations great achievements but not on a day that reminds so many of the worst of our history.

Thanks again for a balanced and compassionate commentary.

Glenn Buesnel-Maysays:

Rob, spot on.
I am from a very well-known 2nd Fleet convict, Mary Wade. I am a Christian man. What our forebears did to the aboriginals was brutal and deliberate. And no, we should not feel guilt from thos transgressions. Yes, the echoes of that brutality resounded through the generation like festering wounds for our indiginous brothers and sisters and the signs of their disenfranchisement exist today as vivid as ever. To act as if nothing should change today is sublime complicity. And being complicit in their suffering is as evil as those that committed those acts of evil.

As Australians, nowhere in our national values is there room for such complicity. As Christians, nowhere in Christ’s values is there room for such complicity.

The date is a reminder to the suffering that the population has no mind of the suffering that began on that date. We can do better.

Michael Gilmoursays:

History is riddled with atrocities inflicted by one people on another. It’s the terrible result of living in a fallen world. I’m not sure if moving Australia day will have any impact on the situation that currently exists with indiginous people in Australia.
What I would like to know is what would address the problems. Maybe I’m ignorant, but to date I haven’t seen a list of items that if addressed, will forever heal the rift between both communities. What I am very tired of is this issue being used as a political club that ends up costing the country in terms of emotional turmoil and resources.
I believe there needs to be a line drawn in the sand that effectively says, “From here we move on together.” I am unsure how this can be done without compassion from both sides and a sense of, “Both our generations (indiginous and other) have inherited this hurt, let’s see if we can both address it”.
There also needs to be recognition that living non-indiginous people did not inflict the pain upon the indiginous people in the past….in fact, many of us have a desire to see the hurt addressed once and for all.
I do get a sense that some people are using this issue as a way to unreasonably extort money by putting a price tag on pain. Yes, there should be compensation but what is that number and will it actually help the situation? Once the funds are paid will the issue be finally addressed or will it raise its head again and again?
As I said to a German friend who was feeling an obligation regarding what transpired with the Jews in WW2. Germans didn’t masacre the Jews, bad men did. Maybe it’s about time that good men and women from both sides (indiginous and non-indiginous) stand up and say, “Let’s bring our two people groups together and resolve the issues once and for all rather than putting bandaids on it.”

Eugene Jonessays:

Good comment.

Danny Careysays:

Thanks for another thoughtful post Rob. I agree with you. I think it is important to follow the example of Jesus who loved and healed all those he encountered with. We are called on to love one another if we want to follow Christ. Much healing will be achieved if we recognise the pain of our indigenous brothers and sisters as well as a chance to seek forgiveness for the pain inflicted by the collusion of Christian institutions in the crimes of dispossession and cultural genocide of the past. Change the date and mark a new beginning.

Eugene Jonessays:

The 26th of January 2020 has never happened before, every day is unique and never gets repeated. The 26th January 1788 will never happen again, the time and space have all changed. Society, government policies, human rights, and civil liberties have also changed. Changed for the better. For most Australians the reason for a holiday is unknown, but we accept this date on the gregorian calendar as a day for family and friends to gather and celebrate what we have as a great nation. If we choose to not celebrate anything on any prticular day because on that date in history something bad happened to somebody, somewhere, then we will probably run out of days to celebrate. One day, the 25 of December will be questioned by people who find the name Christmas offensive and what it represents. After all, Jesus was born during the passover which would have put his birth in September. So Let us give thanks for what we have and not dwell over what we have lost. Let us celebrate unity and a glorious future. A future made up of infinite unique days that we assign numbers and names to.

Philipsays:

Is it not a wee bit ludicrous that one’s primary identity is determined by place? Nationalism based on borders is a very recent artefact in human history. Too often it has become a pseudo religion imposed by government fiat. Public Holidays are the 21st Century equivalents of Saints Days.

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