What does Australia Day mean to me?

Australia Day to me for a long time has just been “another Public Holiday”. It was only until I started opening my eyes to the world that my interests in the history of Australia Day began to spark. Questions were unanswered; like when did Australia Day begin as a recognised holiday? Why do we see ourselves as ‘Bogans’? Why is there so much hatred around on this holiday? What makes someone Australian?

Well firstly, Australia Day has only been completely recognised nationally as a Public Holiday since 1994. Did you know that? 1935, this was when the term ‘Australia Day’ was adopted by all states and territories to mark the date, 26th January. There have been numerous attempts and suggestions of changes to this date and the name of this holiday; however it’s only recently that I personally have noticed a massive ‘social whinge’ about Australia Day becoming a different name. Why? Well social media has truly helped the small group of complainers reach the masses quickly; but there is such a lean towards the anti-Islam crap on Australia Day!  Have we beome so narrow minded that all we care about today is anti-islam? Why can we not just celebrate what we all believe Australia Day means to us peacefully?

For me, Australia Day is a chance to celebrate how lucky we are in a country that is this beautiful. I celebrate and embrace my amazing multi-cultural family and our heritage. I was born in Australia; but if it wasn’t for a man that stole a loaf of bread in the UK, I wouldn’t be here! How many generations need to be born in a country before they are classified as a countryman?

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For some Australians this day brings sorrow and a feeling of survival. 26th January represents the arrival of the 1788 First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, NSW. This was a fleet full of starving, sick convicts (white men in chains). It was also the day life changed for the indigenous Australians, the Aboriginals. Once the British arrived (and they were cruel people – just look back at what they did to India!) the Aboriginals were killed, raped and tortured just for fun. So as you can see, for some it can be questioned why should we be celebrating this day?

So back to my heritage; I am a mixture of English, Spanish, Irish and Scottish – to me that is what makes me Australian! My husband is a mixture of Pakistani and Indian – to me that makes him Australian! Our daughter is all of those combined and that definitely makes her Australian! And I am sure if I dug deeper into our ancestry past that I would find even more of a mix.

So why all the Bogan hype? I am raising my hand right now, very proudly and stating I am not a Bogan and will never be! So when I heard a journalist state this morning that Australia Day was the one day in 365 days for all of us to embrace our true bogan selves – I thought “you dumbass!”. Not all Australians roam the beaches and parks talking in slang while having a beer in the hand. No offense to the ones that do this; but admit it, you do it all the time without needing a day every year to do so 🙂 So embrace it! Do I wear thongs? Bloody oath I do! Does this make me a bogan? Hell no!

What will I teach my daughter about Australia Day? I will teach her about how it began and how Australia became the country it is today. She will learn to love and appreciate all the differences in Australian people and cultures; and she will learn to celebrate diversity and the freedom to be who we are.

So on this fine Australia Day, I leave you with this…

Embrace who you are and your family’s past; celebrate our freedom and enjoy the company we hold. For no matter who we are, where we came from or what we believe in; we are all Australians and we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful country on such a gorgeous day.

Love Ang x

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