TIME FOR CHANGE: Lismore's Rev Graeme Davis OAM CSM on his life of service since his involvement in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.
TIME FOR CHANGE: Lismore's Rev Graeme Davis OAM CSM on his life of service since his involvement in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966. Sophie Moeller

Why date of Australia Day needs to change

AS A retired military officer, but also in defence, all ranks are obliged to carry out any order/direction they are given. If that means providing support to Australia Day activities on January 26, then we do so without question.

Australia Day should be for all Australians. Not just for us who came by ship from another land?

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, January 26 is, and will remain, a painful day that marks the start of colonisation.

As the status quo stands, January 26 (Australia Day) is not a celebration for everyone.

It divides our nation, which is against the common good of all people.

For our first Australian people, it marks the beginning of hundreds of years of suffering and inequality.

Up until the mid-1970s, the date of our national celebration to acclaim nationhood was the Monday of the long weekend nominated to celebrate the Queen's birthday, not January 26 .

In Brisbane, where I was posted, the Australian Defence Force held a magnificent parade three hours long and it was heralded as a most appropriate day to commemorate our birthday.

It was a significant and ostentatious event on the nation's calender, not just in Queensland, not just for the select few.

Should we change the date from January 26? In my view, most certainly. It cannot be business as usual.

Justice is vital for every Australian because if we do not experience justice as individuals, we do not experience peace; the two go hand in hand.

Rodney Dillon, a Palawa man and indigenous rights advisor at Amnesty International Australia, puts it best:

"January 26 is a hard day for all of our mob. Aboriginal people always feel sad on Australia Day; it marks the end of freedom for our people.”

We must all listen to what Rodney and all the mob is saying and take affirmative action to make amends.

To gather all peoples as one, not divide the nation into those who are for and those who are against change. To have the celebration of Australia Day all inclusive .

"We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on Earth we come.

We'll share a dream and sing with one voice

"I am, you are, we are Australian...”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been protesting January 26 for a long time and I personally support and encourage discussion and action on the change of date, for if we as a nation are to stand in solidarity one with the other, then we have to change our thinking, open our hearts and minds on when we should celebrate the birth of our Sunburnt Country.

If that means changing the date, so be it.

Yes, it's time; and now is our chance to create an all-inclusive national celebration, not one just for the few.

Let's respect the survival and resilience of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and #ChangeTheDate so all Australians can celebrate together.

Graeme R. Davis

(Major Retd) OAM CSM

Lismore


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