In 2018, the Australia Day festivities bring with it Argon’s seventh year working with the Australia Day Council of South Australia. Where has that time gone? Our alliance with the organisation first began in 2011, when we created the website for the, now remodelled, Australia Day in the Office. Over the years, we’ve developed our support of the Council by designing items for Australia Day in the City, Australia Day Merchandise and the other various awards and celebrations throughout the month of January; including the widely anticipated Australia Day Luncheon.
A 10-strong group of Argonauts and their partners attended the business luncheon, along with a variety of business and community leaders, to support Australia Day in our community.
It’s no secret that, in recent times, a robust discussion has raged about the date of Australia Day and its enduring traumatic connection to our indigenous population. Several councils around Australia have already campaigned to change the date, from January 26, and momentum appears to be growing nation-wide. Wherever you sit on the debate, one universal message emerged from the luncheon; the date may change, but the day never will.
The crowd was ‘Welcomed to Country’ by Kaurna elder Mickey O’Brien who spoke about what it meant to be ‘welcomed’ culturally.
We all seek friendship and community. A ‘welcome’ is a relationship between people and country; as you walk through the country, you become apart of it. Everybody is welcome; never tell anybody to ‘go home’. We all bring something; as friends, as family. We all walk together in harmony.
Throughout the afternoon, various personalities spoke about their relationship with Australia Day and what it meant to them. However, it was Chairperson of the Australia Day Council of South Australia, Houssam Abiad, whose address resonated strongest with the engaged crowd. He touched on the date, the day, the debate and what we as a nation can look forward to in the future.
Abiad tackled the ‘elephant in the room’ head-on, openly addressing the years of oppression and genocide Australia’s indigenous population have suffered; since the arrival of the first fleet in 1788. The overall message was that we, as a nation, can’t undo over two centuries of damage, but we can recognise our transgressions and learn from them.
“Reconciliation doesn’t start by changing history; it starts with empathy and education.”
The entirety of Abiad’s speech is located on the Australia Day Council of South Australia website. I implore everybody, no matter their position on the issue, to digest this powerful message.