Australia Day 2022
We cannot change the past but we are the ones who make the future.Heston Russell
Each year, on January 26th, we celebrate Australia Day. When I was younger, I remember this as a proud day of National celebration. However, January 26th has now become a controversial day, causing divides and creating confusion across our country.
On the 26th of January 1949, the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 became law. This was the first time in our Nation’s history that the term ‘Australian Citizen’ had been used, including within the Australian Constitution. Prior to this, everyone living in Australia were simply recognised as British subjects. But on Australia day in 1949 we were all finally recognised and joined together to form our community of Australian Citizens – officially becoming the Australian People.
Since 1949, many people have joined our Australian Community, travelling here from lands far and wide. Migrating from other countries, some even fleeing war zones and conflicts, while others travelled here to join their families and friends. We are so blessed to live in a country that is full of boundless plains to share, and made richer by all our different cultures and diversities.
Australia started with conquest and conflict.
Australia started with conquest and conflict. Our First Nations suffered through events that we would all take up arms to fight against in the context of today. We are all strengthened by knowing that the land we live on and share today has been cared for and nurtured by the longest living First Peoples on the planet. For over 60,000 years our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have taught the next generations of Australians the importance of our shared land, that should be celebrated and protected for all generations to come.
In a world that constantly looks to divide and discriminate us based on a range of labels that can be applied, Australia Day is when we get to celebrate that which joins us all together, being Australian Citizens. Something that so many of us take for granted because we may have been born into this privilege, while so many others have toiled and travelled to become a part of our great nation.
Myself and five generations of my family have served or fought in the defence of Australia, dating back to World War I. Each year we commemorate Anzac Day on April 25th, not because it was one of the greatest military disasters and loss of Australian lives in the war, but because of the actions and attitudes of those who fought through horror that day and demonstrated all that it meant to represent Australia and all our people.
On Australia Day, I choose to celebrate the coming together of all our Australian community.
How will you choose to celebrate Australia Day, and set the legacy for our generations moving forward?
How will you set the legacy for our generations moving forward?
We must acknowledge our past and make sure that we remember and learn from our history. We must also move forward and strengthen our national identity with the bonds that unite us, while facing those that cause us to divide. This is our responsibility as the Australian people, please help us progress these conversations with more understanding, compassion and respect for all those involved.
I wish every Australian Citizen a healthy and meaningful Australia Day, with the hope that we can celebrate this as a National Day that brings us all together.
We cannot change the past but we are the ones who make the future.
By Heston Russell