Clubs send bold Australia Day messages

Justin Chadwick |

Momentum continues to build for the date of Australia Day to change, with numerous clubs from around the country sending out strong statements about the pain and hurt that is caused by celebrating January 26.

January 26 marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and the raising of the Union Flag by Arthur Phillip.

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, it represents ‘Invasion Day’.

Australia Day hasn’t always been celebrated on January 26, and there are growing calls for the date to be changed.

Almost every single AFL club took to Twitter to acknowledge the pain and distress that January 26 represents, and the need for unity.

The AFL Players Association Tweeted a moving graphic that summed up the sentiment.

“For many First Nations Peoples, this day represents the beginning of colonial violence, dispossession of land, destruction of culture, separation of families and brutal massacres across the country,” it said.

“This day is referred to by many as Invasion Day, Survival Day, and Day of Mourning.”

Brisbane utility Callum Ah Chee hopes Australia Day will find a new date.

“All Indigenous people want to celebrate this great country, but we want to do it together,” Ah Chee said.

“If we could celebrate on another day, we want to be part of that.”

Collingwood tweeted: “As a club, we are committed to working towards a day where all Australians can celebrate together. This will acknowledge the true story of this great country and be inclusive of all.”

Cricket Australia caused a stir last year when they dropped the term “Australia Day” for matches played on January 26.

They have gone one step further this year by allowing staff to work on January 26 and then take a day off on a different date.

The NBL sent out a statement acknowledging the pain that January 26 brings about for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“In order to move forward in this country, we must acknowledge and understand our past,” the NBL’s First Persons and Multicultural Support Liaison Janelle McQueen said.

“On today, and all days, we stand with those communities who have been affected by the wrongs of Australia’s past.”

NRL outfit South Sydney Rabbitohs took to social media to acknowledge the pain and suffering that January 26 represents.

“Today, the Rabbitohs join in acknowledging the many and varied cultures that make up our modern Australian nation,” the club posted.

“At the same time, we pay special tribute to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters and honour them as custodians of the oldest living culture on the planet.”

Earlier this week, the Australian government negotiated a deal to transfer the copyright for the Aboriginal flag to the Commonwealth.

The deal frees the flag from licensing agreements, allowing it to be used by anyone without the need to seek permission or pay a fee, as long as it is presented in a respectful and dignified way.