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Australia Day Is Not The Day To Celebrate Australia

26/01/2016 11:28 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
On a day where more than one hundred and fifty thousand people crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a sign of reconciliation an unidentified organization has the word "sorry" written in the sky above the Sydney Opera House during the Corroboree 2000 celebrations, Australia, Sunday, May 28, 2000. Sorry is the one word the Aboriginal people want to hear Australian Prime Minister Howard say in regards to the Stolen Generation. In the hopes of the Aboriginal Council, this celebration will start a reconciliation between the Australian people and the Aboriginal people to provide justice and equity for all. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

I love this country. It is one where beers are always quiet, towns are named with the same word twice and everyone has been to Woop Woop at least once.

It's where words are always abbreviated, because busy Aussies don't have much time between their arvo smoko and din dins to buy petty and chewy at the servo. And where Cobber, Digger and Mate are terms of endearment used to replace abbreviated surnames (G'day, Tommo).

I can't deny it -- it's a bloody bewdy, this place. And any other day of the year, I would put another snag on the barbie and celebrate it.

But Australia Day is not the day to do so.

Today is the day to sit by my family, the oldest living continuous culture on the planet, and to remember the pains that the Aboriginal people have endured, so that this beautiful country may never repeat such torturous evils again.

I only have to think back to when I was in school in the '90s to remember being wrongfully taught about the noble savage, being asked to "stand up in front of the class and show what an Aboriginal kid looks like", being reminded that I was taught at a lesser pace than my classmates and that I would "never amount to much".

I only have to look at my dear mum to remember stories of the time when she and her four siblings were wrongfully removed from her family, land and culture to be raised in the Renwick State Ward Homes by white men. I relive her pains every time I receive cards from my mother, knowing the letters from her parents were kept from her, remembering that she was told not to cry at their funerals.

I think of my great aunt and grandfather who were raised on the mission at La Perouse, who were taught to heed God's word, as if their own spirituality was null and void. Who were disciplined for speaking their language and who were racially vilified and segregated in every possible social situation that can be thought of.

Reliving the awful truths of my family reminds me that I am one of the lucky ones. I have been born into a time where I am able to receive a tertiary education, where I am free to vote, to sit with my friends on the bus, to access health care, to build a home and to love a man regardless of his skin.

It is through sharing these stories and through bridging the gaps in understanding that we continue to create a flourishing future for this country, to stamp out racism, to raise equality and to reconcile.

So as you adventure in the bush or bond over a beach barbie today, I hope you spare a thought for the Indigenous Aussies who might not be so joyous, and that you start a conversation that could bring a wave of change.

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