'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

26 January 2012

Australia Day

More flags than you can poke a stick at.
Today the 26th of January this country celebrates Australia Day. As an advertisement for this years anniversay mentioned, we have more flags then you can poke a stick at (an Australian colloquialism). It is a day in which thousands from afar choose to become Australian citizens. I watched a broadcast of the Canberra ceremony this morning conducted by the Governor General Quentin Bryce and the  Prime Minister Julia Gillard under the Australian Flag, the Aboriginal Flag and the Flag of the native people of the Torres Strait Islands, unfurled by the Federation Guard of the three armed forces. The ceremony, like all official events do now, began with acknowledging and honouring the traditional owners of the land and a 'Welcome To Country' ceremony conducted today by Aunty Agnes who is an Elder of the Ngunnawal People.  Here everyone from the Prime Minister down calls a woman elder  Aunty ...... as a mark of respect that the young have for any tribal elder.
Aunty Agnes who has officiated at many events in the National Capital.
The History
Somewhere around 60 thousand years ago our first peoples the Australian Aboriginals had made their way from Africa to Australia. Then about 3 thousand years ago the Egyptians may have made a trip here according to hieroglyphs discovered in the East coast mountains. Then the Dutch made some sail bys over a period, but generally  moved on. It was not until 1770 that the English Captain James Cook landed and claimed the Great Southern Land in the name of King George III, six years before the American colonies declared their independence from that same King.
On the 26the January 1788 the first fleet of convicts under the charge of Captain Arthur Phillip came ashore in Sydney cove and it is this date that is now marked as Australia Day, the day on which European settlement began in a country that they later declared to be Terra Nullius (i.e. land belonging to no one). Many Australian Aboriginals refer to this day as Invasion Day or Survival Day. It is also a fact that the first peoples of this land were not even counted in the census until a referendum in 1967. Incorrectly most believe that is when they were then also given the right to vote, but they already legally had that as male British subjects since colonial days.
It is also the 40th anniversary of the establishment of The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of what is now the old Parliament House at 1pm on the 27th of January 1972 set up to protest for Aboriginal  land rights. It continues in the name of what is yet to be achieved. Many things have changed, but there is so much more to do to establish a fair go for ALL Australians.

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