Changing the date of Australia Day won’t change our reality
AUSTRALIA Day is just around the corner but mercifully we have not yet been bombarded with the usual calls to change the date.
We can assume that some of this has been due to the trauma of this year's catastrophic bushfire season.
For the moment, at least, fighting fires and helping communities recover has been everyone's priority. By contrast, the 'change the date' argument pales in significance to the need for a country to come together as a nation. After all, fires don't discriminate and we are all affected in one way or another.
Yet just because the argument is muted doesn't mean the culture wars have gone away.
Rather than change the date, the call is now to change the PM.
Protesters have taken umbrage with our Prime Minister calling for him to step down and blaming him for not acting quickly enough in response to the fires they argue are caused by climate change. Of course, we have elections to change the prime minister. And, thankfully, we also have days like Australia Day where we can come together as a country and a community, regardless of our race or origin.
In our PC and ideologically driven world it appears seeking answers to solutions is not the order of the day, instead it's all about emotionally driven vilification. And be under no illusions: without the fires such vilification would have instead been directed at those of us Australians who do not want to change the date.
Those of us who belong to the group known as the quiet Australians believe in finding practical solutions for the continued plight of marginalised indigenous Australians. We do not believe in the emotionally driven idea that changing the day our nation celebrates who we are is somehow going to improve the lives of the most marginalised. We prefer to find practical solutions that we can all contribute to as one people under one flag.
Let me tell you a story. It's not pleasant, but it shows the sort of abuse that is happening that we get distracted by symbolic fights.
Before Christmas I sat through a court case in support of a young woman who had been bashed and raped by her own father on numerous occasions.
The perpetrator faced two charges of aggravated assault to which he pleaded guilty, and four of sexual assault to which he pleaded not guilty. He was found guilty on all counts.
The sentence is yet to come. This was one small victory for Aboriginal victims of Aboriginal crimes. But, as I understand it, such cases are far more common within remote Aboriginal communities than we can ever imagine. Many are not reported and in some, when found guilty, perpetrators are given lenient sentences - a result of the backlash the black deaths in custody Royal Commission has created.
While the left currently invest so much energy into pointless protesting that sees very little in the way of outcomes resulting in practical solutions the rest of Australia increasingly grows weary.
Tolerance of publicly expressed irrational anger has its limits. Virtue signalling has a definite use by date attached. Priorities must be realigned if we are to make real change. Instead of perpetuating myths we must focus on facts. The time has come to rally the support of quiet Australians instead of pointlessly blaming and insulting them.
The fact remains that more Aboriginal people die outside of custody than in, mostly as the result of interpersonal violence perpetrated by other Aboriginal people.
The number one reason for incarceration of Aboriginal people is domestic and family violence. Incarceration offers an escape from this violence and a relief for the affected families. Left media and campaigners against black deaths in custody wilfully fail to recognise this. Like most ideologically driven agendas facts are not important - emotions are.
So, my argument remains - changing the date of Australia Day will not result in any change to the dire circumstances blighting the lives of so many indigenous Australians.
Demanding that the date be changed, however, will provide a convenient distraction from issues of real importance; like better education outcomes for indigenous Australians, better health outcomes, meaningfully reducing incarceration through reducing rates of family violence and protecting children from sexual abuse which will, in turn, reduce rates of youth suicide.
Grief can bring people together as nothing else can. We are grieving now as a nation for those who have been devastated by the bushfires. Those who try to capitalise politically on that grief by attacking our Prime Minister only divide us. The campaign to change the date of our national day does the same thing.
Because of the fires there will be an underlying sombreness to the celebration of Australia Day this year.
We should, however, be proudly celebrating the heroic efforts of our firefighters, community volunteers and all of those Australians, and others around the world, who have opened their hearts and wallets to support those whose lives have been ravaged by the fires. Australia Day this year should be about our people's resilience, and no Australians have been more resilient than those who were first here. We have shown the world that we can come together as one people in the face of tragedy. We can come together as one people to find ways to support our first peoples with a determination to find practical solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price is Director of indigenous Research at the Centre for independent Studies and an Alice Springs councillor.