opinion

Aboriginal leader Jacinta Price: 'Changing the date of Australia Day is pointless.'

Yesterday, our social media feeds set alight with posts debating the date of Australia Day.

But one voice who rose above the rest was that of young Northern Territory leader Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. For her, the passion was misguided – needed instead in the form of action and aid in our country’s indigenous communities.

Jacinta’s Facebook post on Thursday has attracted a staggering 10,000 comments and over 30,600 shares, as Australians nationwide commended her for a much-needed reality check.

“I keep hearing that Aboriginal people want to change the date of Australia Day. Well what about the Aboriginal people who don’t want to change the date?” asked Jacinta in the post.

“Do we not count because our opinion differs? And why aren’t these people as concerned about the aboriginal people affected by domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse? Why aren’t the marches for murdered Aboriginal women as big as the marches occurring today?”

The post went on to draw attention to the dire state of education and health services for remote communities. In the Northern Territory region Jacinta is from, the life expectancy is just 63 years old – the lowest in Australia, and 14 years younger than their white counterparts in the same area.

Jacinta vocalised frustration when it comes to securing real, positive action and encouraging some perspective in the Australia Day date debate.

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“I’m pretty sure if we are pressured enough to change the date then there will be something else for the Aboriginal middle class activists and guilt ridden white fellas to be offended about,” wrote Jacinta.

“After all has saying ‘sorry’ stopped domestic violence and dysfunction? Has saying ‘sorry’ saved an Aboriginal life? I know it did absolutely nothing for me but most token symbolism does very little for me because in my opinion only hard work, responsibility and real action can make real change.”

Most will agree that this year’s Australia Day felt more fully charged with political unrest than ever before, and with good reason. To celebrate the genocide of the Australian Aboriginals by colonialists is no longer acceptable by the average Australian. It is wrong. And to change the date just makes sense.

But among the marches, the petitions, and the endless debates around backyard barbecues; it’s also easy to lose perspective on what is really requiring our attention and passionate dialogue – our current indigenous population. As Jacinta points out in her post, there is nothing we can do to edit the past, but we do have the power to affect the future.

“The future is far more important to me than our past,” she wrote yesterday.

“Our future is where we should be focussed so that the most marginalised Aboriginal people of this country whose first language is usually not English, who do not have access to media, whose lives are affected at alarming rates by family violence can have the same opportunities as those who claim to feel pain because a country celebrates how lucky we are on a date that marks the arrival of the first fleet.”

Hear, hear, Jacinta.

Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud team debate the representation of Australia Day in the 2017 Lamb ad: 

Feature image via Facebook. 

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