Australia Day needs National Wattle Day
Australia Day, 26 January, is attracting the usual criticism that it is a day that divides rather than unites. It happens every year - unsurprisingly as 26 January marks both the arrival of the First Fleet and the day Aboriginal sovereignty was lost. Given these realities, it is a problematic day on which to base national unity.
The Federal Government doesn’t like criticism of Australia Day. Assistant Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, recently banned the city of Fremantle from changing the day for its citizenship ceremony to the 28 January, because it would give an anti-Australia Day message.
But there is another Australia Day that unites us all. It is called National Wattle Day, 1 September. It is already an officially gazetted national day. It has none of the baggage and insensitivity of 26 January. It is a day that unites us all, under the banner of our national floral emblem, the golden wattle.
Increasingly Australians are seeking a way to solve what has become the conundrum of Australia Day.
If as a community we are serious about recognising Aboriginal occupation of the land prior to colonisation, it follows logically that we need to find an alternative to celebrating the day that ruptured their tenure in that land.
National Wattle Day celebrates the land itself and the society and nation it sustains – all its people. The simple beauty of the golden wattle, a flower that has evolved in our land for more than 30 million years, unites us all in authentically celebrating Australia and being Australian.
So let’s end the on-going angst and think of the two days as complementing each other. Let’s embark on a journey over a period of five years or so, where we celebrate each day and see how those celebrations evolve, as we look to create a nation fully reconciled with indigenous Australians, the original custodians of the land. We will likely find that the wattle will lead us to a great solution, just as the wattle has been the unifying symbol of Australia to which we have so often turned in the past.
Further information on National Wattle Day is available from the Wattle Day Association’s website – www.wattleday.asn.au
President of the Wattle Day Association, Terry Fewtrell, is available for interviews.
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