National Reflection Day a less violent celebration than Invasion Day

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

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‘Invasion day’

Changing the name of Australia Day to Invasion Day conjures up connotations of war and violence. (“Are Australia Day celebrations headed in only one direction?”, The Age, 24/1) Why not change the name to National Reflection Day so that all Australians can reflect on the past and create new pathways for the future. The now outmoded King’s Birthday Holiday could become Australian Thanksgiving Day, with opportunities to celebrate our current multicultural and inclusive Australian identity.
Sheila Mansfield, Highton

Recognise the hurt
Surely we’re confident enough in our nationality not to need a whole lot of flag waving and fireworks to know who we are. And just as surely, we should be mature enough to recognise the hurt we cause to the people who have suffered from 235 years of dispossession and suppression by this superficial celebration. A healthy feature of Australian culture is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Maybe it’s time we found another date to stock up the fridge and stoke up the barbie. A day other than the day Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove with his cargo of convicts and, without the slightest blush, claimed the continent for the antecedents of Charles III of England.
John Mosig, Kew

Big day off
The annual fuss about Australia Day always assumes two things – that a country needs a day to celebrate its being better than other countries and a holiday needs a name. Approaching another chance to fuss about the country, I cannot recall a single year in which I have done so on Australia Day. It is a day on which we each can do whatever we want, whether we go to work or not. It is a late summer day off before the serious stuff kicks in again. It needs a name as much as the Queen’s Birthday Monday does – not at all. Let’s be honest and make the last Monday in January the Big Day Off and leave it at that.
Conor King, Pascoe Vale South

Ditch colonisation day
I’ve never read a more persuasive and succinct case than “It’s not the right date to celebrate” (Comment, 24/1). David Berthold reminds us that “Australia is the only nation on the planet that takes the beginning of colonisation as its national day”. He highlights that the First Fleet didn’t arrive on January 26, it only became a public holiday in 1994 and has long been scarred by controversy, dissent and protest. His knockout blow is his declaration that “Any national day that divides more than it unites is a clear failure”.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

The real Australia day
We should celebrate Australia Day on the day we became the nation of “Australia” on January 1, 1901. This was the day Australia became a self-governing Federation of the previous six colonies. Truly something to celebrate rather than Captain Phillip’s rather sad landing at Sydney Cove.
Jennifer Raper, Brighton East

Steps towards reconciliation
January 26 marks the proclamation of British sovereignty over part of the east coast of Australia. Australians should, I believe, celebrate when it became an independent nation on January 1, 1901, even though it’s an existing public holiday. As a further step towards reconciliation with First Nations people, a new public holiday could recognise when white Australia voted to change its Constitution to include “People of Aboriginal race”, on May 27, 1967, or let us celebrate when the High Court overturned “the doctrine of terra nullius” by celebrating Mabo Day on June 3.
Michael Cawte, Kew

Truly inclusive
The date for Australia Day can only be May 27, the date that 90.77 per cent of the population voted to, effectively, recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as citizens of Australia. On that day we became a nation inclusive of all people.
Kim Smith, Hughesdale

THE FORUM

Opportunity at risk
An Indigenous Voice to parliament has – no surprise – now become, yet another political football. Congratulations to the Liberal and National parties. After centuries of ignorance and ineptitude towards these peoples, have we finally reached the bottom? Have we no shame?

A well-respected group of Indigenous elders came together to provide us with the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These leaders have spent their lives seeking truth telling and reconciliation for their peoples, and have offered, indeed pleaded, for their views to be heard. The imminent referendum can, and should be, a cause for rejoicing and celebration. To lose this chance of reconciliation is unthinkable.
Keith Brown, Southbank

Repairing the damage
Former deputy prime minister John Anderson is one of the latest senior Coalition figures – and one of reportedly deep Christian conviction – to oppose the Voice. He warns Australians are being shamed into signing a blank cheque. As observers assert (Letters, 24/1), a reading of the Marcia Langton/Tom Calma co-design report exposes this as alarmist rhetoric.

Many contemporary Christians concede that the establishment of missions, and the work of staff and bureaucrats, convinced that they knew what was best for the wretched natives, had disastrous consequences. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an enlightened, generous attempt to facilitate durable change. It should be respected as an important step towards reconciliation and unification, and towards improving our poor international reputation.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Where is the harm?
In enabling the Statement from the Heart, I ask where is the harm? I thought that gaining knowledge, understanding and empathy were good things. Voice gives the opportunity for the marginalised to be heard, truth encourages necessary but uncomfortable learning and treaty the acknowledgement of the falsehood of terra nullius. Unfortunately, Peter Dutton is employing tactics from the John Howard “republic playbook” of divide and conquer.
Brian Burgess, Middle Park

How to resolve the fight?
Sean Kelly contends that Peter Dutton is looking for a fight (Comment, 23/1). We all know that without bipartisan support, the Voice referendum will probably fail. However, it would be a national disgrace if Indigenous people are not specifically included in the Constitution as the original inhabitants of Australia.

The High Court of Australia has already decided that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had rights to the land before the British arrived, so their presence is not in question. However, Kelly chose to highlight the political fight rather than suggest how it might be resolved. He might have suggested, for instance, that the federal government could separate the question of formally recognising Indigenous people in the Constitution from the vexed question of the Voice.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency website states: “We work directly to and support the Minister for Indigenous Australians. We work to influence policy across the entire Australian government. We also liaise closely with state and territory governments to ensure that Indigenous programs and services are delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as intended.“
Kelly might have urged Dutton to ask Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney to explain what the Voice could achieve that cannot be done through the existing agency.
Max Thomas, Yarragon

Commandment qualified
The Wilcox cartoon (The Age, 24/1) depicting Peter Dutton demanding the detail behind the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” actually justifies Dutton’s request for more information. The commandment is significantly qualified elsewhere in the Bible, for example Exodus 21:17, where the Lord directs, “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang Junction

Attacks reflect weakness
I applaud Jelena Dokic and her stance against social media trolls (“Dokic calls out body shaming”, 24/1). She is obviously an intelligent young woman who has suffered at the hands of others, yet is determined to rise above comments from people who must be so unhappy in their own lives they need to bully others.

I’m sure that if we looked into their lives, we would see them as lacking in self-esteem and confidence, feeling free to attack others, usually anonymously, to make themselves feel superior.
We should all stand with her against these vicious trolls and remember that kindness is the best way.
Wendy Daniels, Hawthorn

Don’t pass judgment
My namesake, Jelena Dokic, bravely reminds us of the folly of ignorance and arrogance by online trolls maliciously disparaging her physical appearance. Not least of which that “what happened to Dokic” was that she survived her father’s emotional and physical abuse. Unbreakable, but indelibly scarred.

Notably, that Dokic is using her public platform to talk openly about her personal battles with mental health to help others is commendable. Because Dokic has turned an egregious negative into a positive and survived to tell the tale. So, unless you’ve walked in Dokic’s shoes, no one should be passing judgment on her.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

One of the best
Kudos to Jelena Dokic for her strength and wisdom in standing up to the vile and hateful online abuse she is exposed to. Despite this abuse she has become an outstanding tennis commentator – one of the best.
Vicki Swinbank, Northcote

Mix pop and classic culture
“Australian politics facing the VCE chopping block” (The Age, 23/1) should be cause for massive protest; instead the matter has sunk into oblivion, despite the student who studied it saying “What I actually learnt in the course will be relevant for the rest of my life”. Blaming the digital revolution is laziness. By dropping perceived hard or boring subjects, academics are now entrenching pop culture as a way of life. For the sake of a comprehensive future for society, students need to balance the pop culture around them with a little classic culture and a knowledge of our history, including our political structure. There is no reason why Mozart and Beethoven cannot sit beside Queen or Elton John etc.
Shirley Videion, Hampton

Vote push undermined
Madeleine Heffernan on the decline in popularity of Australian politics as a VCE subject made interesting reading. Fewer than 200 students of 50,000 VCE students studied the subject in 2022. Yet in some quarters there is advocacy for the voting age to be lowered to age 16. The regrettable low take-up of the subject in schools tends to suggest motivation to learn about our political system is lacking.
Diana Yallop, Surrey Hills

Terror of robo-debt
An innocent pensioner felt “sheer terror” when robo-debt sent her a bill for tens of thousands of dollars (“Dark period: Horror at robo-debt”, 24/1). I hope the powerful people who authorised robo-debt are finding out how that feels.
PJ Bear, Mitcham

No mere glitch
So, a senior Centrelink departmental figure said that “a glitch in the system had triggered the incorrect $65,000 debt” attributed to an age pensioner. A glitch is an unexpected minor problem. Any new computer system, especially one with significant financial implications, would be thoroughly tested to remove any so-called glitches, and testers would work manually through various cases to confirm results. Only when this was signed off would there be a roll-out and then only to a small subset of users for a probationary period. This ensures that the system performs correctly in a real-life situation and the results would be closely monitored and documented. All of this is standard practice, but who can believe that this was done? Rushing through the testing and implementation was surely done because of pressure from senior members of the government and Centrelink with grievous results.
Peter Williams, Alphington

Art inflicted
The justice of your correspondent (Letters, 24/1) questioning the value of street “art” is seen thus: I would not presume to inflict my guilty pleasure, the piano accordion on you, the public. It lacks a refined tone, but it is very loud and perfect for live performance.

If the street artists lived next door would they like to hear my art incessantly? I could easily drive them nuts exploring Beatles’ material where Paul’s bass is emulated on the buttons with George’s guitar on the piano keys. Arts council funding anyone? Consider the living hell if every location defaced with “art” also featured promising musicians, 24/7.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

Sparkling solution
It is encouraging to read that paint-based works will be installed to discourage graffiti in more Melbourne laneways. Perhaps it is time to consider mosaics as an enduring way to enhance laneways and underpasses.

In 2011 Melbourne artist Pamela Irving installed 700 mosaic faces at the railway underpass at Patterson Station in a bid to discourage the graffiti that made this area one of the most defaced in Melbourne. The mosaics were created and donated by artists, amateur mosaicists and school children. Twelve years on they are still serving their purpose and are a joy to see. The community is involved because from time to time a “Wash your Face Day” is organised by Pamela Irving, a fun day when mosaic artists, residents and schoolchildren keep the works sparkling.
Shirley Anderson, Armadale

And another thing

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Australia Day
Changing Australia Day would be the end of the world as we know it, for some the original one certainly was.
Peter Finn, Tallarook

It’s encouraging to read figures (24/1) about the younger and obviously more informed generation’s support for changing Australia Day to Invasion Day. Good news for a change.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

The Voice
The devil is in the detail? What about the devil in “the pursuit of detail” for the sole purpose of gaining a political advantage?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

The discussion around the Voice is becoming depressing. The simple principle of enshrined consultation should be enough, with structural detail determined by parliament later.
Colleen Keane, Montmorency

“Voters’ support for Voice drops” (The Age, 24/1). Peter Dutton and the National Party must feel really proud of themselves.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Never has leader of the opposition been a more appropriate title.
Richard Opat, Elsternwick

Can the government answer one question: will the Voice improve lives in places like Alice Springs and Redfern or will it just be people sitting around talking?
Diana Goetz, Mornington

Australian Open
Jelena Dokic: best commentator, best interviewer. Massive contributor to enjoyment of the AO.
Pamela Whiting, Southbank

It’s ridiculous that one of the major sponsors of the Australian Open is Chinese drinks company Guojiao 1573 when China’s tariffs are effectively stopping imports of Aussie wines.
David Ginsbourg, East Bentleigh

Finally
With all these armchair admirals giving us their two bob’s worth on nuclear-powered submarines and smart sea mines perhaps our defence forces are not so under-resourced after all.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

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