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EDITORIAL: A day to reflect on what’s really Australian

Australian.

What's that mean?

I'm writing this editorial as I devour the last remnants of a Byrne's pie, washed down with a can of Coke; and the lamington to the right of my keyboard is looking pretty good for smoko.

It seems the fitting thing to do - just like snags on a barbecue, backyard cricket, cooee competitions, sitting in a blow-up pool, thongs, slip-n-slides, Aussie flag tattoos, emptying the esky of beer, listening to the Hottest 100, or falling asleep in the hammock.

Today we wake up to celebrate our country's big day; the 228th anniversary of European settlement on Australian soil. But every year, in the lead up to Australia Day, there is the usual conversation (and often fierce debate) about the suitability of the date, the name and the meaning of January 26.

On one hand it's labelled as invasion day, it's damned as being racist and just another colonialist token.

Conversely, it's used as an excuse by racist boofheads who flaunt bad manners and poor form all while using our flag as distraction from their boorish stupidity. They wear ignorance and racism like a badge of honour.

To anyone who calls this country home; to anyone who loves it and hopes for a better future - surely neither are applicable.

It's easy for me to say that, right? I'm a white girl descendent of European settlers.

Well, yes it is easy for me to say - and my ancestry has nothing to do with it.

It's because the Australia I want for my kids is a country proud of its heritage but mindful of the path taken to get to where we are.

I want to live in a country that can apologise for its failings - not because I did it, but because I am sorry it happened. I want to be part of a nation that acknowledges we are the sum total of every success, failure, hurt, achievement, misadventure, story, song, government and decree to date.

I want a country where we can acknowledge the richness of our community and be grateful for its diversity, not fearful of some mythical demise. And I want a country where we don't just sing about our boundless plains to share.

As a country we have a past which is as bloodied as it is gallant: it's chequered, it's uncomfortable; yet still our country is great.

We are now at a crucial crossroad. We could allow the hurts and fears of the past to transcend that which could be our future.

Or we could look each other in the eye, honestly acknowledge the journey so far, and move on.

Accepting - not forgetting - the past; and embracing our future. Live and let live.

That's what it is to be Australian.

But that's just me.



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