26 January 2020

Lidia Thorpe: “One of the first things you notice about the ‘Change the Date’ debate is a glaring absence of Aboriginal voices. This is in keeping with the obsession that Australia (progressive Australia included) has with fretting about the so-called ‘Aboriginal problem.’ For all the talk, this never seems to involve opening the conversation to perspectives, solutions, and leadership by First Peoples themselves. We are also absent from the debate because — unsurprisingly — many of us aren’t interested in helping to alleviate white guilt by moving the date of Australia Day. Given worsening and horrific deaths in custody and a gap in the life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous men of up to fifteen years, it’s not a pressing concern. In fact, it’s a dangerous distraction from the conversation we should be having, about signing a treaty between black and white Australia. … Without a treaty, the trauma and bloodshed that stretches from our past into the present cannot be confronted; lasting and meaningful reconciliation will be impossible. Indeed, the absence of a treaty is the single biggest roadblock to Australia growing up as a nation. … [A]t its core, a treaty is an agreement between sovereigns that recognizes the existence and inalienability of the rights of all parties. Other forms of ‘recognition,’ even if well intentioned, don’t cut it because they do not resolve this fundamental injustice.”