Change The Date: For Fucks Sake, M8!

This year, more than ever we have seen the call for:

“Change The Date: For Fucks Sake, M8!”

As “Australia Day” otherwise known as “Invasion Day” approached this year, a day I haven’t traditionally celebrated in 3 years, I started to wonder how I can up my ante in this space.

Previously (and unconsciously) I would celebrate Australia day, year after year, with a tonne of beers and listening to the JJJ hottest 100 ( Who are legends for changing the date of their famous countdown).

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For me personally it was like a punch in the face - It was one of those things, once I started to actually think about what this day must feel like for some First Australians - I started to ask a heap of questions about what I/we could actually do, to not be such offensive twats.

Jordan Raskopoulos’s  viral video last year got me right in the heart (and to be honest the belly, because it was also funny as fuck):

Jordan stated:

“Let’s imagine that Australia is one big sharehouse. And you live in that share house. And your housemates come home and say ‘We’re going to have a party on Friday night,’ and you say ‘Can we not do it on Friday night? That’s the day my dad died”

Good housemates would say ‘Sure, let’s have it next week, we want to make sure everyone has a good time. It’s kind of like that, except your housemates moved in without permission, they don’t pay rent, and their dad killed your dad.'”

 “Sure, it might be a bit cold in May, but it’s not as cold as ignoring genocide.”

There has been a lot of talk about celebrating Australia day on May 8 ( M8 - MAAAATEE). The legends at Sparkke Beverage have even prepared an icy cold beer, with profits going towards ‘change the date’ campaigns.

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In 2017, I gave my dear friend, an indigenous elder a buzz - asking what I could do - he said:

“Sis talk about it , talk about what you feel and why.” He also added, as he always weaves into the conversation, to “ keep paying respect to mother(earth)”.

Last year, I had as many one-on-one chats with people as I could.

At the time I was planning Fuckgiving’s pilot food forest - and the more I chatted to people, the clearer it became that there was only one way to design this forest. It needed to be planted with all native bush tucker like macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle, native raspberries and warrigal greens - because I felt the least I would do was pay respect to the land (or mother)  and do my best to start to restore it, to what it would have previously been.

Did you know that our Kakadu plum has the world’s richest known source of vitamin C? That honey made from native bees has been found to have similar medicinal properties to the famous NZ manuka honey? That lemon myrtle can be used to make tea and has been found to have anti-viral properties?

Why the fuck aren’t we growing more of the foods? Learning about the benefits of them?  Instead of monoculture agriculture - such as wheat as our primary agricultural crop, which we know, under current methods, depletes our soils of nutrients and water?

Sorry I digress a little - but it’s all interconnected - we are approaching peak soil and phosphorus and our growing population needs to pay attention to food (with our diet making up approximately 40% of our ecological footprint - depending on what you choose to eat of course). I think we all need to start paying some serious attention, and learning more about this shit.

Actually, I think not appreciating or paying respect to First Australian’s is right at the core of all of this, and we need to start learning as much as we can, like right now.

The value of these foods we cease to grow is only the tip of the iceberg of the knowledge we risk to lose (even more of)  as a species.

In saying that - I would like to flag - It’s also not up to the First Australians to do all the educating. It’s up to individuals to give a fuck about this stuff, we have never had more readily available knowledge available to us at the end of our fingertips - we just need to start asking the right questions.

So that’s how I’m going to “celebrate” Australia day - by learning as much as I can about First Australians, planting some native trees and using my voice to tell others what I’m doing.

Actually better yet - fuck needing a day to do this - shouldn’t we just be doing this most days?

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So what are the options moving forward?

Should it become a day of mourning, of deep respect and empathy like ANZAC day? Whereby we take time out to remember those passed who have past?

Should we spend the day honouring all those who have made Australia great? Where by we are not separate, but now a collective?

Should we spend the day understanding and learning about atrocities so we never ever experience them again - committing to learn uncensored history?

Here are some things people are already doing:

Spending the morning going to an acknowledgement of country, or indigenous cleansing ceremony, talking to people about what the day means to them, changing the date themselves and not using their brands to promote Australia day.

I also just want to be clear that I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate the incredible land we have the privilege to live on - this land and its people are worth celebrating with a history that dates back over 60,000 years, not just 200+ years - now that’s something to celebrate which is more meaningful than this:

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I mean, just imagine for a moment, what this image would look like, if  you took out everything except the ocean, sand, palm tree and the kangaroo - this would actually be a bloody beautiful image of Australia, and something worth celebrating!

And wouldn’t celebrating this feel different? Wouldn’t it have more depth to it? I certainly think so.

In researching for this article I came across Steve Oliver’s reflection on Australia Day:

“I wish that just for a moment, seven billion people stopped seeing and hearing the world and just felt it.”

I wish that two - I think if we did that, we would feel that there is so much more to life than Aussie flag capes and meat pies - and that collectively we have so much to learn and share with each other. Just imagine if we did that? Imagine if we harnessed our collective untapped potential? If we collaborated instead of competed?

Until that moment happens, I’m going to keep asking questions, especially why?! And especially around days we seem to celebrate without thinking about why, what and how.

Days like birthdays and Valentines Day?! and all these days of bullshit high consumption with lack of real depth to them.

I think it's time we start asking why, what and how we celebrate all together.

Sara Rickards