Calls for date to change for Australia Day
JANUARY 26 is a day where some of us gather for a barbecue to celebrate Australia, but for many of the traditional owners of this land, the date harbours distressing memories, pain and trauma.
Artist and Designer Rachael Sarra is a proud Goreng Goreng woman, who is known to create colourful and symbolic paintings that form connections with her culture and give First Nations people a voice.
Her art pays homage to her heritage and has been showcased in a series of exhibitions including QPAC’s Unearthed and the Brisbane Street Art Festival.
Ms Sarra, who grew up in the Bundaberg area, has revealed why changing the date of the nationally recognised holiday, is such an important step for the future of Australia.
“I hope we see the date change (in our lifetime), but we have been campaigning for this for a long time,” she said.
“I can’t speak on behalf of all First Nations people, but for me personally I believe it’s important to change the date because it is a clear statement that will acknowledge the trauma we have faced as First Nations people.”
Ms Sarra said she believes there is apprehension over the decision, as people may feel they are not responsible for the actions that led to the frontier wars.
The conflict occurred following the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, in NSW and when Governor Arthur Phillip first raised the Great Britain flag at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.
Ms Sarra believes changing the date is paramount to moving forward as a nation, as the move would promote inclusivity and show respect to all Australians.
The Goreng Goreng woman said from the perspective of First Nations people, while non-Indigenous Australians were not directly involved in the conflict that occurred, they have all in some way received an advantage.
“You are either benefiting from the legacy of the privilege or you are fighting against the introduced structures that have oppressed us,” Ms Sarra said.
“Some people also believe the talk around changing the date means that they aren’t welcome here in their own country, but this is not the case.
“We are unique and diverse country but we are ignoring our foundational dna and the generations of knowledge that comes with that.”
The artist said she is passionate about speaking openly and publicly about the issue and posted to her business Facebook page about it.
“Changing the date is not the outcome nor is it a magical cure to generational trauma, but it is the key in changing mindsets,” the post read.
“Its key because changing the date of Australia is an invitation for us mob to feel at home in our own country, it is not a deportation letter (for) those who don’t identify.
“Changing the date is accountability, but we are ready to rectify this.
“(It) is saying, we trust you to determine your own lives, we value your knowledge, and most importantly, it’s saying we don’t want you to hurt anymore at the hands of our celebration.”
Ms Sarra said she was grateful for all the positive responses she had received.
“People are showing a lot of compassion and respect, but I believe that has come from the fact that they have acknowledged their bias and accepted their privilege,” she said.
“Being a mixed race Aboriginal woman with lighter skin I can sort of see and experience both sides of this.”