There has been a lot made in the media over the last 24 hours about the date of Australia Day. It is poorly timed and delivered without research.
This Day is one for all Australians to celebrate. Yes, it is a day that has history but the ancestors of ALL of us came to this great country from other lands. Even the ancestors of those now indigenous walked or came via the sea to this land and we should celebrate the events that brought us all together because we have all gained from the experience.
The earliest of travellers came here of their own free will looking for a better place, a paradise, and they found it.
Those who landed here with The First Fleet did not all come here of their own free will. Many were ripped from their homes and the arms of their loved ones, dragged to the other side of the world in appalling conditions and treated as if they were animals when they arrived here. They did not invade, they were thrust here without choice never to see their families again. Many died along the way. The families of these people have waited for their apology too.
Yet we all celebrate, and why?
Because we all have the great pleasure and the great honour to live in this wonderful land. My own family goes back so far we have no remembered or recorded history of our ancestors ever living anywhere else. Of coarse they did but it was so long ago. This is our birthplace and the birthplace of our ancestors and we love it as stong as anyone else in this land ever could.
It is ours and whilst we do not agree with everything that happens and we feel excluded from some of its great wonders we forgive and move forward, grateful to be in paradise.
Too many times we focus on how we have been wronged but on Australia Day and the days following we should reflect on what we have and give thanks.
Mr Dodson is Australian of the Year and that privilege comes with some great responsibility. He must represent ALL Australians equally, without prejudice or bias and we should allow him to learn that responsibility and to grow with it.
I wish him luck in the next twelve months and look forward to seeing him grow and bringing all Australians along with him. The hardships we face this year are not specific to gender or race but to all Australians and we need strong, fearless people to show us the way to lead.
2009 is not a time for agendas, or for talk of exclusions but a time to work together on the far more desperate issues that all Australians face.
4 years ago