By Peter Gardiner, Chief Executive Officer – Samaritans

As we approach Australia Day and the many festivities that come with it, we should pause to reflect on the purpose of the celebration. Whilst January 26 represents the landing of the First Fleet which marked the founding of Sydney and the state of NSW, it also marks the beginning of decades of turmoil and unjust treatment for our First Nation people.  It’s an important date but not a time of celebration for many Indigenous people.  We must acknowledge that January 26 has multiple meanings and stirs mixed emotions of celebration and mourning.

Our national day presents an opportunity to honour all that is great about Australia and being Australian.   However, it is equally important to remember the sufferings endured in the past and our nation’s shortcomings.  It is an opportunity to reflect on how we can build a more cohesive, respectful and inclusive Australia.

In your recognition of Australia Day this year I urge you to offer an appropriate mark of respect acknowledging the past, present and future contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our country.

Read more from Peter’s Social Justice blog here

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