OPINION: Too much water under the bridge

I THINK it's a damned shame our most iconic public holiday is being ripped apart at the seams.

I don't blame those advocating its demise. It's merely a sign of the times; a time of greater social awareness.

However, I don't question the relevance of January 26.

Through my history classes at school I was of the understanding that January 26 was the date the First Fleet anchored in Sydney Cove. Indeed, according to the history books, that date hasn't changed.

I'm young enough to have not known until recently that Australia Day celebrations on January 26 did not become an annual ritual until 1994. But the fact is it remains one of the most significant dates in terms of shaping the Australia we know - and all take for granted - today.

I acknowledge its origins do point toward some of the darker shadows of our past and as a result its relevance is dimming in the conscience of many corners of society.

Evidence suggests Australia's experience was particularly barbaric - and hence not worth celebrating in the eyes of many... or at least too severe to overlook while enjoying our freedom slaving over the backyard barbecue.

But labelling it Invasion Day is too extreme. This all unfolded during a global period of colonialisation, where the livelihoods and mother tongues of many native populations were changed - for better or worse - forever.

Australia Day is about our horrible past, so why change?

We should all be able to stand on common ground and celebrate the positive aspects of our multicultural history.

But unfortunately - as the commentary of our time suggests - we can't.

Attempts at reconciliation and formal government apologies to our first people for atrocities committed by previous generations have not achieved the desired outcome in our present-day society.

Socioeconomic conditions have not improved - if anything they've worsened - and the hurt runs deep as ever. When the date digs up old sores for a large portion of the population, then it's a discussion that must be had.

We should, however, hang on to some level of pride for the level of freedom we all do have as Australians.

As politicians, community groups and even my favourite radio station distance themselves from Australia Day, it seems inevitable January 26 will soon be pulled from the calendar of significance altogether.

The plus side?

The Triple J Hottest 100 countdown will henceforth be held on a Saturday - not a work day. Rock on!


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