'I used to think January 26 was a celebration. Then I met my husband.'

I grew up in north Brisbane in the seat of Dickson (Peter Dutton's seat). Where I went to school, there wasn't a black person, a Muslim or a Jewish person in sight. I celebrated January 26 proudly, around the pool with my friends and our blow-up boxing kangaroo.

I grew up believing that, while Aboriginal people have been hard done by, ultimately, their life is better now. We learned that the Stolen Generation was a long time ago and that white people were just trying to help Aboriginal kids. I would discuss with my friends, "Don't they get free houses?" "Don't they get special treatment at uni?" "Don't they get access to free university?" "They get access to so many benefits."

Watch: We can all agree, January 26 is one of the most complex dates in Australia. Post continues after video.

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Then, I met a beautiful Aboriginal man, my now husband, Pat. Pat's father and his five siblings were taken from their mother (all under the age of five). I heard tragic stories of their childhood, punctuated with isolation and disconnection. The Stolen Generation wasn't in the "olden days" like I had thought.

I discovered while interacting with his family, not much had changed from the "olden days".

Not a benefit in sight and Aboriginal children are the highest cohort of foster children, Aboriginal people represent 30 per cent of incarcerated people, while only three per cent of the Australian population. Deaths in incarceration are at staggeringly record highs amongst Indigenous people, suicide is the leading cause of death in Aboriginal kids. 


Erin with her husband, Pat. Image: Supplied.

My husband dropped a butcher knife on his foot, at the height of the Voice to Parliament discord. There was blood everywhere. I rushed him to the emergency. My husband was distressed that he was wearing an Indigenous shirt - I rolled my eyes and dismissed it, (racism isn't a thing in inner-city Brisbane, I thought to myself). I dropped him off at the hospital doors and went to find a car park. I came back 20 minutes later, only to find him still at the front of the line, with a middle-aged white man behind the administration desk, ignoring him. I looked at Pat, "Have there been people before you?"



I looked at the white man ignoring us, then I looked at the patients seated in the waiting room. A middle-aged white woman looked at me perplexed and pointed at the man who was ignoring us, "He should be helping."

I walked up to the man and said, "Excuse me, my husband has been waiting here for 20 minutes, he has dropped a butcher knife on his foot, he needs help."

"Oh," he said. Reluctantly, he went to get a nurse. 

Racism is a thing in inner-city Brisbane.

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Despite the way my husband, his family and his people are treated, he is still a proud Australian; he celebrates when the Broncos win; he celebrates when the Matildas and the Socceroos win, he will stay up all night to back his favourite coach, Ange Postecoglou, and, watch Ricciardo cross the finish line.

But on Australia Day, or, Invasion day, we don't celebrate. We mourn. We mourn the genocide of his people, the suicide rates among young people and the deaths in custody.

Australia Day should be a day we can all celebrate. This is common sense. The phoney culture wars that Peter Dutton plays up to, are totally misrepresenting Indigenous people and the people who love Indigenous people. We are all proud Australians and we want a day that ALL Australians can celebrate. So, let's change the date.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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