Been paying attention to how people talk about Australia Day: in the staffroom a silence descended when I asked, some weeks ago, whether Aboriginal peoples shared the celebrations. That’s how I found out about Invasion Day, though others call it Survival Day which is perhaps more celebratory. There’s an uneasiness in the  Australian flag waving, more so, I think, than I’ve noticed in US on Independence Day. Perhaps Thanksgiving has the same echo in that it marks the sharing of food between settlers and native Americans, before the former wiped out the latter. January 26 is the arrival day of the First Fleet, so is also a celebration of colonisation. I’ve done a couple of links to this – one an article full of shame at this past, which attracts some hideous abusive comments; the other a contribution from an indigenous artist on the oneness of creation. Had hoped to add some pix from local Australia Day events but they were all washed out today.

As an outsider I am aware of  three levels of my Australian environment – there’s the educational and other institutions I deal with, the TV and other media I consume, the banking, the telecomms, the familiar  Anglo/US structures (and media content), with interesting variations (no Thatcher or EU regs, so still a vibrant public sector). This life is plentiful, well educated, healthy, outdoors, high quality comfort. People come here to raise kids and you can see why. The life I don’t see is on the other side of town and I know almost nothing about how aboriginal peoples live here, though I understand the educational, health and living standards are nothing to be proud of. But at least I know that I don’t know ……  Then underneath all this is the land and the astonishing fact that the peoples who live in the margins now, as fas as I can see, have a 40,000 year continuous culture in relationship with that land. All the flag waving just looks a little, well, feeble in comparison.

Also conscious I may be exporting that English embarrassment at patriotism; someone mentioned, before I left UK,  that one of the good things about Australia was that it was one of the few countries that still feels good about itself.  Suspect some Australians feel much better than others.

Australian Day article