Recognition: what does it mean to you?

Image from Jan 26 2015 ceremony at Saltwater Freshwater Festival. Man holds bowl with folage. Looks like part of a corroborree or special ceremony.
Image from Jan 26 2015 ceremony at Saltwater Freshwater Festival

Yesterday I enjoyed being part of the crowd in Fremantle watching the fireworks, reliving our engagement day 11 years ago on the south Perth foreshore.

As my husband and I listened to families and friends enjoying the evening we explored multicultural food stalls nearby. Children and adults of all ages and abilities celebrated a public holiday. Yet the paradox still exists. Cheers and clapping excited voices ‘ooh’ and ‘aaahhh’ commenting on the array of colourful fireworks in rainbow splendour, amazing shapes and sizes; smoke polluting the sea air; time, money and effort; creating happy memories; simple fun and enjoyment of the great outdoors; being together; families, communities celebrating; fireworks which could have fed, clothed and housed how many people….

26 January: a day of celebration or a day of mourning and invasion?

It’s not so clear-cut as I once believed – back before my days of working with Australians for Reconciliation. Then it was time to enjoy a picnic with family and friends, arrange a cocktail party or jazz evening; listen to music and watch the fireworks by the Albert Park lake.

While 26 January 1788 marked the founding of Australia for some people, for many First Australians it was the beginning of the struggle for recognition as the original inhabitants and custodians of this land. For others, it is Survival Day—a celebration of the survival of people and culture, and the contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to Australia.

Consider your viewpoint on Australia Day through looking at a 26 January fact sheet prepared by Reconciliation Australia.

Attitudes change. Times change. Traditions change. Some attitudes remain. The effects from some times live on. People change. People stay the same. History is there for us to remember and learn from. What is important doesn’t necessarily stay the same. It doesn’t necessarily change. It depends on our circumstances and value. How we react to it is what is important.

Consider what you hold dear and respect. Family. Community. Unity. Ability. Acceptance of difference and diversity. It’s more than tolerance. Saying Sorry. Hear felt sentiment reflected by heartfelt actions. Not an empty mouthpiece. Living for a brighter future embracing and supporting each other in all our similarities and variety. We’re all part of the human family. Pieces of a jigsaw which make a whole with time and patience; reach potentials given opportunities.

Image: courtesy of the Saltwater Freshwater Festival.

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