The following is a post I shared on Facebook last Australia Day. One year on I would like to share my thoughts after speaking with hundreds of people.
One year ago - January 26th 2021
January 26th 2021 The photo is from this morning as day was breaking over the easternmost tip of Hughes, Jibbon point.
Being away from people and looking at the land and water gives clarity and a means to reflect on what it is to be Australian on this day marked as Australia day. Is it that when we stand barefoot on rocks it feels the same beneath my feet as yours? Is it that the waves that are crashing care not of a day in history, that the sun didn't do anything different today than it did yesterday, it got up early and it'll go to bed late?
Is Australia day about this beautiful land we are fortunate to inhabit or is it about the people? If it is about people the most astounding and extraordinary thing is that on this land lives the oldest known continuous culture on the planet.
Aboriginal Australians, over 65,000 years of continuous culture, which has endured in spite of history.
233 years ago Captain Arthur Philip raised a flag and proclaimed British sovereignty on this land. It doesn't matter how we talk about it or around it, this is what today marks.
However you spend today, reflect on our beautiful ancient land, the people and especially the world's oldest surviving culture.
Australia Day, 26th of January 2022
This year I didn't see daybreak, instead, I was on Dharawal country at a sunset cultural ceremony participating in a yarning circle.
That yarn circle and the conversations I have had over the year confirm to me that only positive change will come from deeper engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I have had hundreds of conversations with people over the past year asking about their priorities. Not once did anyone say to me “maintaining the date of Australia Day is important” on the other hand I have heard about the sense of dread and despair leading up to the 26th of January for many First Nations Australians, the day that symbolises European settlement.
To change the date or not to change the date? We can talk around it. about it and never say anything and try not to offend anyone. But as I have always said I would lead with a ‘least harm’ approach. And if the date causes harm and exclusion, on current feedback, I support changing the date.
I understand some people may not agree, and that is OK. We should all be mature enough to be able to disagree, and likewise, we should all be able to change our positions when presented with new information. . What you can expect from me if elected is I will be always honest on my positions and I will communicate with the electorate why I have arrived at certain positions. I will also provide opportunities for forums on important subjects such as this so we can all hear from lived experience and experts and arrive at informed decisions.
With that I pay my respects to all Australians today who have sought to make our lives better and Australia a more equitable place to live.
And last and by no means least, I think we can all agree we love the land on which we live.