“The Andrews government’s decision to quietly scrap the annual Australia Day parade shows just how toxic the change-the-date debate has become”, writes the Herald Sun.
No wonder you do not see any flags and other artefacts associated with the national day being sold in any of our supermarkets.
For our migrant communities, this is the third time there will be no Australia Day parade to celebrate their commitment to their new life in Australia.
What a shame!
In 2021 Covid-19 was the reason. 2022 was in some ways COVID-19 jetlag.
This year too, there is no official word. Instead, the state government says there are celebratory events happening at Fed Square and at the Government House. A complete list can be reached here.
The Victorian Government says it “recognises Australia Day represents a day of mourning and reflection for some Victorians, and is a challenging time for First Peoples.”
“A program of events at Fed Square and Government House will give Victorians the opportunity to take part in free activities to mark the day and reflect on its significance,” the state government says on the website.
The fun and frolic of participating in the Australia Day parade – when migrants feel ‘belonging here, calling Australia home’ – is something very special.
Waving to (white) Australians and getting the reciprocal high 5s on the day is a feeling so special, it cannot be expressed in words.
You must be a migrant to be able to feel how special it is – the feeling of being accepted as Australian, equal and one of them.
The decision makers must realize their decisions affect almost fifty per cent population of the state who have at least one parent born overseas.
They have been quiet as if non-existent.
We all know politicians deal with only what they must.
If migrants have not spoken, they cannot just blame the Andrews government. By not speaking, they have allowed symbolism to take over.
It is sad.
For migrant communities, it is particularly sad as they are being totally overlooked as if they do not exist. It is either the First Nation people or the mainstream (white) Australians who seem to be carrying the responsibility and authority to decide what should be done, if anything.
Migrants, must rise to the occasion, force their say into the debate. They should also have their say on the design and implementation of the issue of the Voice to parliament.
Whatever decisions our politicians take on such issues will, without exception affect all Australians – including migrants.
Thus, they have a right of a say in it and they must be consulted and heard with due deference.
The Chinese Victorian community is not happy on losing the chance to celebrate Australia Day 2023 parade and want to have them heard on the issue.
“The Chinese community accepts that it is a day that our First Nations people view with pain and sorrow”, Wayne Tseng, President of the Chinese Precinct Chamber of Commerce told Bharat Times.
“Australian Chinese community sees Australia day (26 January or even a different date) should be a celebration of everyone including our First Nations people.”
“More than half of Australia’s population is born overseas. Australian Chinese account for 1.2 million. Australia day should reflect the spirit of all of us,” Wayne Tseng added.
Also read: Humbled, John Pesutto takes charge
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community South Australia has invited members of the public to join them to celebrate Australia Day tomorrow.
“Australia Day has a special significance for Ahmadi Muslims in Australia. This is a day when we can thank Australia for its many freedoms that it has provided us including the freedom of religion. In Australia, we are free to congregate at our mosques, offer prayers and hold community events without fearing for our lives,” Adelaide’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said in a statement.
No migrant community in Australia is in denial of the pain and suffering of the First Nation people. But now that they are Australians like white or First Nation people, they should have an equal say and should not be ignored.
It is possible some politicians might just need the migrant communities’ voice to wake up; we may see they no longer feel cowed down by the empiricism of social media.
Daniel Andrews may also be waiting for our voices to hit the requisite decibel levels before springing into action and restoring the parade plans from 2024.
On the issue of Victoria’s multicultural communities missing out on the Australia Day parade, Victorian leader of the Opposition John Pesutto said “the cancellation of the Australia Day Parade is deeply disappointing. This is a popular family event that both brought communities together and people into our CBD – it shouldn’t be tossed aside without any explanation”.
“Daniel Andrews must explain to Victorians why this important event will not be proceeding,” Mr Pesutto added.
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