Celebrating Australia Day & Honouring Our Indigenous Brothers Who Fought for Australia
23 January 2021
We as fathers need to pass on our love for Australia to our children. If we do not, who will? I am not talking about some sort of jingoistic conceit for our country, but a clear and deep love of our nation despite our nation’s many weaknesses.
Yes, and we need to pass on to our children a deep love and respect for our Indigenous people too!
I believe we have much to be proud of, and much to be glad about here in Australia. What better way to express that than Australia Day!
After all, Australia is one of the best countries in the world in which to live.
I am not alone in my assessment. CONSULTANTANZ have published a great article which elucidates the premise well: 10 Reasons why Australia is a great place to live and work.
The population review puts Australia at number 3, pipped by Norway and Switzerland. Those places are very cold, so Australia is still number one in my book.
NeoMan Studios believe that Australia is the happiest place to live in the world.
The Nomad website has listed 59 Reasons Australia is the Best Place on Earth, which are both true and humorous. I rest my case.
That said, a lot of the radical elites are trying to ban the celebration of Australia Day, and condemn anyone who does as being racist. I kid you not! And they are using our Indigenous brothers and sisters as the battering ram for their cause. “Black Lives Matter” is their raison d’etre, and “Invasion Day” is their excuse.
Premier Dan Andrews in Victoria has cancelled the usual Australia Day celebration (because of Covid-19), but has allowed and promoted an “Invasion Day” Dawn service. Interestingly, he has not cancelled the Tennis, which gathers 750,000 over the extended period.
Along with many Green-Left Councils, even Cricket Australia has succumbed to political correctness and dropped Australia Day wording from its traditional Australia Day Big Games. Rightfully, this has made the Prime Minister upset — he has pointed out that they would be better off sticking to cricket.
Sadly, the radical elites are bent on exploiting any racial differences with their divide and conquer stratagem. Identity politics is a zero-sum game. Many call it Cultural Marxism. Such groups share a common hatred for the West.
Such groups use and abuse minority groups for their own political ends, with little concern for their true long-term welfare.
What message is this sending to the Indigenous relatives and family members of the 1,200 Indigenous men who served in the First World War under the Australian Southern Cross flag?
Many of these brave soldiers died fighting under the same flag that is displayed so prominently at every Australia Day celebration across the country (that has not already been closed down).
For the record, all those Indigenous men in the army were volunteers.
Not to mention the 3,000 Indigenous men who fought as soldiers for Australia in the Second World War, all under the Australian flag. Again, many did not return home, but are buried in foreign lands.
Again, between 160 — 300 Indigenous soldiers served in Vietnam; once more, some paid the ultimate price in service for their country.
Why do we forget their sacrifice and disown the flag they died for on Australia Day?
Do Black Lives Matter? Apparently not, to some!
You ask me, why do I feel so passionately about this subject? Let me explain.
Injustice was something I always felt keenly about. I never picked a fight, but I got in a few defending the weaker kids in my class.
Perhaps it was the fact that my Dad had such a keen sense of right and wrong. Growing up, Dad had many Aboriginal friends across at our house. This was not the done thing in those days.
Indigenous people have suffered horrifically at the hands of those who marched under the Union Jack. Many Indigenous people were massacred in the 1800s, but most died early from white man’s diseases.
Thankfully, this has changed for the better since Federation and nationhood in 1900. Much progress has been made over the last few decades, and there is still more that needs to be done!
I remember in 1967 when my Dad washed an Aboriginal man’s feet in Martin Place on the back of a semi-trailer. He was draped in a Union Jack flag. A short while later, he tipped a box of ashes over himself and of course the Union Jack, in a symbolic act of repentance and solidarity.
It was on National TV and in all the papers. All my friends at school saw it on TV. I did not understand it at the time. Only later would I realise how important this act was.
It was a matter of months before the historic referendum to give Aboriginal people the right to vote. I can see now that this was a public apology to the Indigenous people of Australia for 200 years of colonial injustice and an act of reconciliation.
I was only 11 years of age but was called a ‘boong lover’ by my fellow classmates. My dad they nicknamed “Ashes”. Children can be cruel.
I will let an Anglo-Indigenous friend of mine, Kelvin Crombie, share. Many people would say he is Indigenous. He prefers to include the Anglo, as this is the reality of most of Australia’s Indigenous people. This story is taken from his special article just written for this year’s Australia Day celebration.
“There is nothing wrong with being a patriotic Australian. When watching the Australian cricket team, especially in the Ashes, I feel patriotically Australian…
But what does it really mean to be a patriotic Australian… in view of the differing views relating to Australia Day on the 26 January? My perspective on the matter is conditioned by my upbringing and by my life journey, and I certainly do not presume to be an expert on the subject…
Then in 1996 a British film-maker asked me to work on a documentary with him about three generations of Anzacs in the Middle East — myself being the third generation. I knew I had uncles in the region during the Second World War, but didn’t know about family involvement there in the First World War.
This search began while on furlough in Australia in 1997. The search unearthed that one great-uncle had died serving as a Gallipoli reinforcement, and that one great-uncle had served on the Western Front — as an Aboriginal soldier! This meant that my grandfather was also part-Aboriginal, not part-Indian.
This discovery led in turn to finding the marriage certificate of the great grandparents. They were not married in India, but at Pingelly, and my great grandmother’s name was just ‘Julip.’ She was an Aboriginal woman from the Noongar people.
The research also uncovered that another direct ancestor was a fifteen-year-old ‘convict’, one of a group of juvenile ‘convicts’ known as the Parkhurst Boys. So my Australian heritage now also had both ‘convict’ and Aboriginal connections.
What did all this mean? Did it now mean that I had to change or adapt my behaviour and thought patterns, my worldview? Not really as I basically remained just as I had always been, which was mostly Anglo and part-Aboriginal.
Interestingly, I was told (as too was my brother Grant) that there is no such thing as part-Aboriginal — that you are either White-Anglo or Aboriginal.
Hard to fathom that attitude though, especially as a large proportion of Australia’s population is part this and part that, and one’s physical identity, even worldview, is influenced by all of these inherited parts…
We acknowledge that Almighty God has ordained that Aboriginal peoples would first inhabit Australia, later joined by British and other European peoples, and in more recent times, peoples from other cultures and ethnic groups.
We acknowledge that within these waves of migration to this, God’s land, practices have occurred which failed to reflect the dignity and respect due to all image-bearers of God. We regret all these wrong practices and are truly sorry that such events occurred.
But it is our desire today, and henceforth, to worthily represent Almighty God… including that all who live here be treated as equal citizens.”
Our family has played music in over 100 Indigenous communities, in every state of Australia where there are significant Indigenous communities. To this day, our family remains heavily involved with the Indigenous people.
The Indigenous people of Australia are incredibly forgiving. They are not well-represented by the radical fringe. They just want to be treated as equal and fellow Australians, as Kelvin has expressed.
In the nineties we organised three annual Praise Corroborees, which were 72-hour continuous Prayer/Music/Reconciliation gatherings at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, in 96/97/98. The media ignored them as usual.
Interestingly, two of my daughters-in-law could also apply for Indigenous grants and scholarships if they wanted to, but their viewpoint is like my friend’s. They are proud of their Indigenous heritage, but they don’t want to abuse it.
Even Dads4Kids was actually given birth through the words and inspiration of an Indigenous elder, Ps Ronnie Williams. Almost every year for the last four years, we have featured Indigenous fathers in our TV ads.
Yes, for us Black Lives do matter, but we reject the use of our Indigenous brothers and sisters to further divide a country they have bled and died for, in spite of the injustices of the past. And yes, there were many.
The recent change to the National Anthem by our Prime Minister is very slight, but very good. The first line of the Australian National Anthem, “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free,” will end with this now: “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are one and free.”
We cannot live in the past as painful as it was. The only way forward is together as my Indigenous friend Kelvin and the Prime Minister have declared, “equal citizens — who are one and free”.
Tell your children we have more reasons to celebrate Australia Day than to be ashamed of it, and Indigenous blood has been shed to prove it, in more ways than one over the years.
When we celebrate Australia Day, let us also thank our Indigenous brothers and sisters for their Indigenous forebears who volunteered to die for us, in spite of past injustices!
Yours for Our Indigenous Friends’ Sacrifice for Australia,
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This is a great article, Warwick – thank you for sharing your wonderful family story;
your Dad must have been an amazing man. Thank you too for the interesting aspect of the Aboriginal soldiers. Coming from family lines of soldiers on both my Mum’s and my Dad’s sides, I was very interested in this.
Needs to be sent far and wide.. make sure the ABC gets a copy!
Barry Rodgers OAM