Indigenous CultureThoughts & Ideas

Australia’s Shameful Secret & Why Australia Day is Important

Each decade of our lives brings with it new perspective, new insight, new ideals.

As each decade passes, and I reflect on the me of years gone by, I realise just how different my perceptions of the world have become. If you’d asked me in the past what Australia Day meant to me, I’d have given a wide range of answers.

Some of those answers would possibly have included:

  • A day to celebrate our history.
  • A day to spend with friends and family.
  • A public holiday off work.
  • Being proud to be Aussie.

I’m guessing that for most people, Australia Day does mean something like one of the above, or very similar. But I’ve also come to know in recent years, that for some people, Australia Day has become a stark reminder that their lands were invaded and their culture stripped away slowly and painfully. Their culture is still clinging to a fragile existence in a country that doesn’t seem to care.

When I was Growing Up….

I was raised by a hard working “Aussie” Tradie, and the values he spouted over my childhood are pretty far removed from the values I hold as an adult. I grew up in the 80’s, a time of work hard for little, spread your money around as best you could, and raise your family in the Aussie, beer drinking, BBQ cooking kind of way. Where “Greenies” were ruining people’s jobs, and unless you were “white” you weren’t really all that important, and god forbid you questioned your own sexuality, that sort of foolery was intolerable!

In all fairness, my dad has either mellowed or become so tired of me ranting about equality and the environment he’s chosen to agree with me for the sake of peace! He’s a good man, but I’m so glad that our generation seems to question what we are “fed” rather than just go along mindlessly.

When I Discovered Australia’s Secret Shame!

Yep, you read it right, Australia hides secrets, ones that need to be blown into the limelight! Until my mid 20’s I’d never really left the safe surrounds of the coast, tourism areas or main country towns. I was blissfully unaware of what I didn’t know, and then a few years ago we set off on a camping trip from Darwin to Adelaide. So excited to see things like Kakadu and Uluru, we were looking forward to discovering the “real Australia”.

What we found was not only that there are places in this country more beautiful than you can ever imagine, but sadly that there are people in this country that are forgotten about, used for political leverage, and left to live in squalor in shameful slums that most of the country don’t even know exist.

We discovered that Indigenous Australians are suffering. They are being tucked away, their needs dragged out and spoken about only when a political party needs to gain a vote, or the government wants some of the land they occupy to grant mining leases and rake in cash. There are real people, real families, real stories and there is real sadness spread across the heart of our country. There is a real culture that is dying, much of which has been lost forever and this will continue to happen unfortunately unless change is made quickly. The reality is, so few of us realise just how bad it truly is.

Why Australia Day is Important.
  • Australia Day is truly important, because EACH AND EVERY PERSON IN AUSTRALIA IS IMPORTANT.
  • Australia Day needs to be a day to celebrate our growth as a country.
  • It needs to be a day to celebrate progression toward equality on all levels.
  • It needs to be a day that cultures blend and share, merge and combine for good.
  • It needs to be a day that we hold our government accountable to be sure they are truly leading our country in a way we can all be proud of.
  • It is a day where history must be acknowledged and a path to move forward TOGETHER is celebrated.
The truth is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. I didn’t know, but I want you to just consider for a moment, the pain at having everything you have known ripped away from you, ripped away from your family just a couple of generations ago.
I want you to understand that raw emotion and raw pain, causes a huge amount of sensitivity around this issue. I want you to be brave to learn about the possibilities of acknowledging our past as a country and then standing together to move forward.
I am really very, very passionate about indigenous issues, and it saddens me that sometimes Australia Day brings about debate, name calling and sometimes even violence. I truly believe that we can find solutions, that the more people who understand just how “hidden” the realities of Indigenous issues in Australia really are, the more people who learn to discover for themselves, beyond what the media or the government report, but to really learn, embrace and understand.
It is then we have a chance to make a change, so that ALL Australians can be proud, so that we can all walk together as one, and so that indigenous poverty in remote Australia is put to an end!
I hope you all had a great Australia Day, it’s a wonderful day and we should all be proud of our wonderful country, just as we should be using our voices to ensure our country only gets better, stronger and becomes the safe haven for all those who live here!

 

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Loreena Walsh

Loreena Walsh

Loreena is Founder of Little Aussie Travellers, Australia's leading blog dedicated to family travel around the country. An avid explorer, writer, photographer, nature lover, she's dedicated to inspiring through travel and stories.

4 Comments

  1. January 27, 2012 at 2:52 am — Reply

    Agree agree agree
    Well said

    • January 27, 2012 at 3:08 am — Reply

      Thank you so much Jill! I wasn’t sure whether to publish this article, but I just feel so frustrated at times that there is so much negativity when we should all be looking forward to an amazing future, and hopefully one where we are all equal and our special Indigenous cultures are preserved and respected for what they are!

      I appreciate your comment :)

  2. Ben Johnson
    February 9, 2012 at 12:01 am — Reply

    So true,
    we can all band together to fix these problems, its all about making everyone aware.of whats going on.
    well said :)
    Benny from the Bakery :)
    WAUCHOPE ROCKS!!!!!!!!!! wooooooo lol

    • February 9, 2012 at 12:59 am — Reply

      Thanks for dropping by Ben! Glad you’re here… Gooooooo Wauchope 😉 haha

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