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Australia Day 2019 - Message from Head of Aboriginal Affairs

25-Jan-2019

I know that as the weekend approaches, you and your families will be thinking about what our National day means to you and how to respond to it.

Many of you would have been following the media coverage on what the 26 January means to different people. Sadly, much of what I have read and heard has been devoid of context, selective in its use of facts, oversimplified and divisive.

Over the past few years, the Change the Date debate has become a bit like a bad game of cricket – it goes on for days and gets lots of media coverage, without delivering a result.

For the most part, what is missing from this debate, is any real attempt to understand the impact of the past and the bearing it has on the present; to acknowledge the inequality that exists in power relationships between Aboriginal communities and others; and really listen to the voices of Aboriginal people, and their aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia (Uluru Statement from the Heart).

For the first time, I have really struggled with what to say to you in my Australia Day message. Not because I don’t feel strongly about the issue, but because the debate is being conducted in a manner that I am not really interested in participating in.

There are three exceptions to this. For me, these really sum up the conversation we should be having as a nation. I would encourage everyone who hasn’t read or heard them to do so.

I no longer support #ChangeTheDate. We must change Australia - Luke Pearson

Celebrating nationhood on 26 January has become a gratuitous act of hostility - Paul Daley

Hate He Said – Steven Oliver

We are fortunate here in AANSW that we are all united by our work and the agenda we are delivering. Each day you come to work, you make a positive difference by helping to challenge the deficit discourse and create transformative relationships.

Every positive story shared serves to educate, influence and inspire those around us. It is these stories of optimism that drive the hopes, visions and aspirations of Aboriginal people, and contribute towards shaping a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

While acknowledging that we have significant work ahead to support our communities in their efforts to redress the issues they face, I am immensely proud of the way we work and the contributions we have made so far.

Regardless of what you choose to do on 26 January, may you and your loved ones have a happy and safe weekend.


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