Australia Day opportunity to focus on good: elder

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Noongar elder Dr Robert Isaacs will urge all Australians to forget about their differences and embrace the January 26 date as he is set to make a stand on the topic during Albany’s Australia Day celebrations.

Making headlines last year for his stance on the divisive date, Dr Isaacs will speak at the citizenship ceremony as the Ambassador for the Australia Day Council about the need to “come together and move forward”.

In light of several local government councils opting to change the Australia Day date, Dr Isaacs believes the nation should stand by the current date, at least until an appropriate inclusive alternative is found.

“Some might say that it is not a day that Aboriginal people should celebrate because it represents ‘Invasion Day’, but this day is an opportunity for all of us to forget about our differences and focus on all the good things we have done as a nation of people,” he said.

“The hurts of the past must be acknowledged but they cannot continue to overshadow the way forward. And the way forward is for us all to come together on one day.”

Dr Isaacs acknowledged the hurts of the past and the frustration and disconnect some Aboriginal people might feel about the celebrations.

“As with many nations, our history is marred by the disregard of the first settlers for the first people of the nation ... we cannot change the past,” he said.

“We are damaging our own people, causing division and we have to move forward together to get past this.”

In an interview with the Albany Advertiser, Dr Isaacs said despite his support for the current Australia Day date, he was calling for a referendum so everyone’s voice could be heard.

“Until someone comes up with an alternative, and I haven’t heard one yet, switching it to the 25th or 27th doesn’t convince me,” he said.

The City of Albany has stood by previous statements regarding Australia Day, and said the City has not considered changing the date of Albany’s Australia Day celebrations.

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