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Australia Day – A Reflection

By staff writer Alistair Gray

Hey, it's a holiday, a time for family, friends and fun! A time for National Unity.

Schools back, for most, holidays are over and it is our last break before Easter in April.

Australia Day is a day to acknowledge the past and the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, in New South Wales on the 26th February in 1788 with the raising of the Flag of Great Britain by Captain Arthur Phillip.

Since then, celebrated in different forms as Foundation Day, First Landing Day and not until 1946, the Commonwealth Government, States and Territories agreed there shall be one national day, ‘Australia Day.’ Then celebrated on the Monday closest to 26th January and since 1994 marked on the actual day or the following Monday.

For years, First Nations Peoples and many in the community have sought to change the date for our national celebration. The tide is gradually turning while still open to active community discussion and debate. The reality is that it is another step we need to take in the reconciliation process. It is time to put aside our egos and prejudices and instead, focus on bringing everyone together and moving forward as one people instead of a divided nation.

This year Australia Day has special meaning as we reflect on almost two years of the pandemic. Lives turned upside down and an unbelievable numbers of deaths worldwide, yet we have been in a virtual bubble protected from much of the impacts here in Queensland. We now face a rapidly changing environment with the easing of restrictions placed upon our movements and all its uncertainties.

It is very much a time to celebrate our achievements as a nation, particularly over the last two years. We need to acknowledge the service of our leaders and all those in public office, no matter what your politics. It is easy to criticise, but someone has to make the hard decisions, and we should be thankful democracy has stood the test, and there has been someone there to lead us.

It is time we acknowledge all the first responders, the Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Police Officers, Fire Crew, Defence Force Personnel, and all those in back-office roles who just made things happen. Also, those working in supermarkets, retailers, hospitality workers, and many more. People have just got on and done what has needed to be done, often at much personal sacrifice and risk.

It is time to reflect upon what we have learnt in preparing for the future.

How have our lives changed? How do we reset our compass to take advantage of the changes and create a better future for ourselves and our children? How do we build a stronger community, a stronger and more united nation? One without division? One with the wisdom collected from the lessons learnt from each State over the last couple of two years. One that looks for the opportunity and brings together the knowledge, resources, and skills learnt to take us forward. A nation more robust, more resilient and caring.

The future is bright if we want it to be. It is over to us to make it so.

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