Return Australia Day to the last weekend of July
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Australia Day needs to be first and foremost a day that celebrates our multiculturalism; a day that celebrates our indigenous roots as well as the diversity within our cultural heritage that has been brought together as the primary ingredients of the great melting pot that has made Australia the great nation it is today.
I see Australia Day as a day filled with ceremony and a festival spirit with the entire diversity of culture and ethnicity on display. I see parades of people dressed in the traditional indigenous costumes of their respective cultural heritage and ancestry while sharing their traditional foods in street stalls and food halls. I see a day of the dreaming and the dreamers coming together as one around the camp-fires and barbecues to tell their stories and teaching each other about the very meaning of culture and heritage.
It is my sincere belief that treaty is not made in the great halls of power in our culture, but around the ancient camp-fires and modern barbecues through stories of unity, courage, acceptance, forgiveness and friendship; for it is these 5 simple things that are the very ingredients of true 'mateship' in our land. I would love to see a day where people feel comfortable with inviting local indigenous families to join them around their own family barbecue to share stories through which we may all learn to initially accept and, ultimately, to forgive each other for the things we have been ignorant of in our respective judgements of each other.
What I would NOT like to see happen is for Australia Day to degenerate further into a day that is about white supremacist attitudes, racism and total disrespect for our cultural diversity under the national flag of our nation. We are a multicultural nation with no single cultural identity being any more, or indeed any less important than any other. This is the vision we need to nurture and celebrate, NOT the racist attitudes we currently see on display every January 26th.
Australia Day should be our 'national day of recognition' for ALL Australians; our day for giving thanks for who we are and where we have come from on our respective journeys through life. It is both a day for united celebration and quiet reflection on the diverse legacies that built Australia. So, with that thought in mind, it seems most appropriate to me that the day we celebrate our Australia Day should simply be returned to the last weekend of July each year with the Saturday being a day of celebration, parades and festivities, followed by a Sunday of ceremony, reflection, giving thanks and a national WELCOME TO COUNTRY for all new Australian Citizens. All new citizens to this, our land, should be invited to undergo a smoking ceremony as part of the citizenship ceremony and, in addition, previous citizens from other lands may also be invited to undergo this ceremony as part of a reaffirmation ceremony.
Historically, during the first world war Australia Day was a fundraising event in support of the war effort overseas. It was the day when women baked ANZAC cookies and made other things to go into parcels sent to our troops while the men went about the business of gathering funds and resources to aid the war effort. This was all organised and managed through the Advance Australia Movement at the time and the last weekend of July became a weekend of celebration for all things Australian and our national heritage. It was not about our colonial history and the arrival of the first fleet to establish a penal colony in Sydney. As such, this NEW AUSTRALIA DAY seeks to expand on that tradition by reinventing it as a day of cultural diversity and expression for ALL the people that have come together over successive generations in unity, not divisiveness, to make Australia the great nation it has now become.
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