Our national anthem asks us to come together with courage, and in the face of drought, bushfires, and COVID-19 we can be very proud of how the Eden-Monaro community has done just that.
There is still much to do and overcome, but this Australia Day we can celebrate what has been achieved and the people and organisations that have got us here.
With that same courage and that same unity, we must continue to advance discussions around the future of Australia Day.
The undeniable loss many Aboriginal people feel on January 26 cannot be ignored.
I am proud that the recent history around our national day has looked to acknowledge the trauma many feel. People within our community have led that conversation and given us all an opportunity to pause, learn and reflect.
We are maturing as a nation – and yet – we could be doing so much more to truly embrace the extraordinary history that we have in this country with human occupation that dates over 60,000 years.
What is needed now is leadership. Leadership that moves us from where we are to a position that truly unifies and builds on a positive future for all.
To me, that means not shying away from the mistakes of our past – and having the necessary conversations to take us forward and make us better.
The past plays a critical role in shaping our future, and we are hardly being good citizens of this country if we fail to respond to what we see each Australia Day.
I believe an Indigenous voice to parliament is an important component in providing that leadership and framework. An Albanese Labor Government will make it happen and adopt the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Right now, the discussion around Australian Day seems stuck and tends to repeat itself every year.
There are many questions and points of view to consider – all relevant and important. But without leadership that captures, acknowledges and directs those conversations, we are left with separate events and journeys.
Australia Day is an event that generates conversation and thought, and rightly so, but my hope is that we can take what we have in common and start to build a national day that truly does reflect, respect and celebrate all Australians.
Photo: With students at Narooma High School
Media contact - Ian Campbell, phone 0417 482 171