explainer

The ‘change the date’ campaign isn't new. First Nations have been fighting for it for years.

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to the media recently, you’d know there’s been a great storm brewing over the past couple of weeks. There have been calls for change, there have been comments sections filled with death threats and pure rage. 

You might think it was a news event of great significance causing such anger. Also, this was the response to the rebranding of a cheese company. 

Now death threats over cheese?

Sure, I guess I understand to some degree as that was my reaction to being diagnosed as lactose intolerant but over the name of a cheese company? Is this the country we have become or is this the country we’ve always been?

I would say yes to both.

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Change is not often accepted easily by the best of us but time and time again, Australians reiterate their unwillingness to change, to become a more inclusive nation and it feels as though death threats over this renaming is a new low.

There are so many things that need to change in Australia for it to become a country where it is just as fair and equal for First Nations peoples. But how are we meant to make meaningful and impactful change if death threats are what you get for advocating for the renaming of a cheese brand?

There are so many things that need to change.

Of course, all of this happened in January which is when the furore begins to get louder each year as we inch closer to the January 26.

'Australia Day'. Invasion Day. Survival Day.

This is probably the most prominent First Nations issue if we’re measuring by the amount of times it appears in the media. More often than not, it is spun in a negative light by mainstream media to portray First Nations people as "angry and ungrateful".

As a Gamilaroi, Muruwari, Kooma and Gunggari woman, I’m not sure how to be happy or what there’s to be grateful for when Australians consistently attack First Nations people. 

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m privileged in that I have access to healthcare and an education but I’m not so grateful for the government tearing my family apart, knowing I’m more likely to die years earlier than my non-First Nations counterparts and having the person with the most authority in this country lack the guts to change the date because he fails to have a holistic understanding of the issue himself.

What I think Australians often fail to note is that the calls to change the date have been ongoing for decades. 

It is not a new movement and it is not related to ~snowflake, social justice seeking lefties~ despite what many Australians might say.

Our own Prime Minister, who seems to be stuck in a mentality from a few decades ago, this week said “it wasn’t particularly a flash day for the people on those vessels either”; an obvious attempt to draw a non-existent parallel between the experiences of guilty convicts and an established society of Aboriginal people.

If we take a moment to step back and listen to the change the date movement, you would see it is quite literally - and only - a call to change the date. When you take politics out of it, it’s not quite a big deal, is it?

So why are people so threatened by it? Why do people continue to remain in ignorance with the false argument that Aboriginal people are trying to take something away from them? 

If our Prime Minister believes it wasn’t a “flash date” for those on the first fleet, why doesn’t he change the date? 

It just highlights that January 26 is a painful date not just for First Nations people but for every Australian.

I find myself growing wearier with this argument each year but I see more young people supporting the cause which overwhelms me with hope.

It leaves the question begging but when will we have a leader in Australia’s top job who will change the date?

Changing the date would be, will be, a huge step towards reconciling this nation and acknowledging the pain inflicted on First Nations people, instead of celebrating this country that was built on genocide on the day it all began.

I can’t wait for a Prime Minister to take a stand… and I can’t wait for the day this country has no adults that will throw a hissy fit when the name of a cheese brand is changed.

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