What does it mean to take a stand and why would you do it?

Greetings Sector Champions.

What does it mean to take a stand and why would you do it?

The ATDC is open on January 26 and we have given staff the option to work on this day and take another off in lieu. This is in line with many other organisations and individuals who are making this symbolic gesture in solidarity with Aboriginal people.

Everyone has their own reason as to why they’d choose to work on this public holiday but every example comes back to the same point – when it comes to Australia Day – something needs to change.

My reason for feeling uncomfortable about this day boils down to cognitive dissonance. Let’s unpack this one, so we have a day that is meant to be about celebrating our country but in doing so on this day, results in yet more trauma for Aboriginal people. Should we be waving flags and jumping into mini pools, while Aboriginal people mourn? It is my opinion that it is disrespectful to do so and has the unintended consequence of pushing us further apart. So the cognitive dissonance comes in when we celebrate on a day that Aboriginal people mourn for loss of culture, heritage and tradition. It’s divisive. Put emotionally, it’s has a horrible feeling attached to it and it doesn’t make any sense. Then you think – well it is easy enough to change, why wouldn’t you?

Your reason or thinking about this day might be different. My reason may make some people feel defensive. If this is the case it is not my intention and I would like to hear your opinion.

I have asked our staff to share their reasons for choosing to work on the day, here’s three examples:

From Dan Vautin, Sector Development Manager: “I want to celebrate Australia Day because I deeply love this country. I have travelled all over the world, and I can say, Australia is by far the best country on the planet. However, I don’t want to celebrate my appreciation for this great country on a day that represents the displacement, destruction, genocide and repression of the first nations people who loved and tended to this land long before we arrived. This day should be a day of reflection and mourning. It is absolutely appropriate to move Australia Day.”

From Liz Knox our Communications Coordinator: “I personally believe the Jan 26 should be a public holiday, but as a day of mourning/remembrance. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality, so I have chosen not to observe the public holiday as it currently is.”

From Ashleigh Barnes, Policy Officer: “I will be working on the 26th with a short break for truth telling at the Invasion Day rally. I recognise that “Australia” Day means something different for everyone. I choose this day to listen to elders, learn about the history of invasion, and mourn for culture and lives lost. I stand in solidarity with the local Aboriginal community, their rights for self-determination.”

The above illustrates that there is a sense of unease with Australia Day being on January 26.

What do you think?

On January 26, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is holding street marches and rallies in both Limilinaturi/Devonport and Nipaluna/Hobart. Visit the TAC website for full details on times and locations.

You may join us and many others and send your own message about this day.

We wish you warmth as we stand in solidarity with Tasmanian Aboriginal people.