Australia Day should be inclusive of all Australians, says AASW
Published: 25 January 2018
25 January 2018
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has today called for a national day which is inclusive of all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
In a joint statement, AASW National President Christine Craik and AASW Director – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Linda Ford said:
“Every Australian should have the opportunity to celebrate our national identity, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
“However, we must acknowledge that the current date for Australia Day makes it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to enjoy and celebrate, as for many it commemorates the beginning of Western colonisation and the devastation that this had on Australia's first people.
“We understand that for these reasons, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the 26th of January is a day of mourning, not celebration and continuing to hold Australia Day on this specific date reinforces the continued lack of respect given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in not recognising and acknowledging this.
“This debate underpins the acceptance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as the first peoples of Australia, the history and the ongoing effects of that history today and gives us an opportunity to move forward by taking the proactive and inclusive step of changing the date so that all Australians can share in our nation’s celebratory day.
“While it is important to talk about the continuing disadvantages, it is also important to acknowledge the strengths, resilience and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“As social workers, we will continue to work in consultation and partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian leaders, groups and communities towards reconciliation. Central to this, is supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian leadership and enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian voices to be heard and respected.
“In part, this is about acknowledging that the date that we have chosen to celebrate our national day excludes a significant and important part of our population and making a commitment to changing it.”