Adrian Barich: We need a date to unite Australia, not divide it

I have to admit I was a bit surprised when Kmart announced it wouldn’t be stocking Aussie flag merchandise ahead of Australia Day.

It seems January 26 is no longer a day of unity but a day that could very well divide us.

Personally, I have had some amazing Australia Day celebrations, highlighted by MCing the City of Wanneroo citizenship ceremonies which were the biggest in the nation. Around 800 people each year would pledge their allegiance to this country, becoming full members of the Australian community.

There was plenty of flag waving then and even the good old Aussie sporting chant “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi”.

But now it seems Australia Day in its current form is not the day it once was and the push is on to change the date, with some local councils scrapping the long-held Australia Day ceremonies.

So what do the young people think? Well, based on my experience they think us “boomers” are in a bit of strife on this issue.

They think the baby boomer generation will have a tough task convincing them that Australia Day is not in fact “Invasion Day” for many of our indigenous brothers and sisters, and that’s the end of the discussion. “Why would you celebrate the dispossession of Australia’s First Nation peoples? Sounds like more of a day of mourning than unity.”

Camera IconAustralia Day. Credit: Dean Alston

These questions had me reaching for my responsible parenting manual only to discover there was no chapter in the book covering tough, ideological interrogations, so I was then flying blind.

I, therefore, went for my only possible option and used the expression from a former football manager of mine nicknamed “Mirrors”. I said I’d look into it.

The conversations that I had to have didn’t get any easier when I spoke to a couple of my friends who are indigenous Australians.

They weren’t jumping up and down about Australia Day but you could tell from the way they rolled their eyes that it just seems like more of the same rigmarole for them.

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