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    John Michelmore

    Australia Day date change won’t end abuse of Aboriginal people
    JACINTA NAMPIJINPA PRICEThe Australian12:00AM January 28, 2017
    I keep hearing that Aboriginal people want to change the date of Australia Day. Well, what about the Aboriginal people who do not want to change the date? Do we not count because our opinions differ? And why aren’t these people who protest about changing the date as concerned about the Aboriginal people affected by domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse? Why aren’t the marches for murdered Aboriginal women as big as the marches on Australia Day?

    Yes, let’s learn about our history, but how is changing the date going to do a thing for the Aboriginal women dying at the hands of Aboriginal men, the Aboriginal children who miss out on school, and the Aboriginal children who are living in dysfunctional circumstances? I can bet you London to a brick they are not concerned with a date change. It is the Aboriginal middle class who are concerned about date changes and those pushing the agenda come from privilege in comparison to the Aboriginal people who are the country’s most marginalised. But let’s all make a huge deal out of this, an even bigger deal out of this than actually saving the lives of Aboriginal people who are living among us now.

    I’m pretty sure if we are pressured enough to change the date then there will be something else for the Aboriginal middle-class activists and guilt-ridden whitefellas to be offended about. After all, has saying “sorry” stopped domestic violence and dysfunction? Has saying “sorry” saved an Aboriginal life? I know it did absolutely nothing for me, but most token symbolism does very little for me because in my opinion only hard work, responsibility and real ­action can make real change.

    The future is far more important to me than our past. Our ­future is where we should be focused so that the most marginalised Aboriginal people of this country, whose first language is usually not English, who do not have access to media, whose lives are affected at alarming rates of family violence, can have the same opportunities as those who claim to feel pain because a country celebrates how lucky we are on a date that marks the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove.

    People want to call it a day of mourning. Well, we Aboriginal people have become professional mourners. We are constantly in a state of mourning it seems. So why do we want to stay in such a state? What do we have to benefit from being in a constant state of mourning? Mourning does not give us freedom: it imprisons us, and I have had enough. I bury my family far too regularly and that is all the mourning I can handle.

    I want everyone in this country to have opportunity. I want to pull my people out of the crippling state of mourning and I don’t want anyone to feel guilty or bad for feeling joy and celebrating a country we love. The future is ours to make the best of and this will be done only if we do it together.


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