As a white Australian, I feel ill-equipped to speak on behalf of an entire people. But, as a user of social media, I can confidently write that I am continually frustrated by the double standard of prejudice I see in the country I was born in.
It is a strange kind of irony that Australians show open disgust at the lack of diversity at the Oscars -an elitist awards event far removed from the everyday reality of Australians - yet show no real compassion for the segregation issues so often observed at home. But, there is hope in the artwork of ACT High School student, Ineka Voigt. ‘Stolen Dreamtime’ featured as the Australia Day logo for the world’s most used website. Google explained the logo choice; “In response to the theme of ‘If I could travel back in time I would…’ Ineka wrote “… I would reunite mother and child. A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was… all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime”.
The sketch should remind non-Indigenous Australians of the cost others have paid for their privilege. Rather than reflecting the hateful “If you don’t live it, leave it” nonsense posted too often on social media, Ineka’s illustration artfully reflects what should be recognised clearly as the day of dispossession it is.
In the UK, Asylum seekers’ doors are being painted red to identify their houses to the community. Today a law was passed in Denmark allowing refugees to be stripped of their possessions to cover the cost of their asylum. To this day, Aboriginal Australians fail to be recognised in the country’s Constitution.
Left in the hands of an aging generation, it seems that legitimate respect for difference is getting further from possible. I look ahead and see all of the mistakes my generation will be apologising for. So, it is fitting that the truth of our history is best reflected on Australia day through the eyes of a child already disillusioned by the views and actions of previous generations.