I’m not going to lie (a first for Strange Times?). But Australia Day troubles me.
There’s something slightly creepy about how our government gives a taxpayer funded pat on the head to the very best number one citizen for the year. And it annoys me that everyone becomes a fan of publicly funded radio for the day.
I don’t like it that people who’ve never actually done anything about Indigenous disadvantage blithely refer to the day as ‘Invasion Day’. Or that rednecks use the day to suggest that anyone who has arrived on a boat since the first fleet should get back on it.
But this year, my attention was drawn to an even more objectionable Australia Day occurrence by one of our valued IPA Review readers. That is, a website provided for us by our beloved government giving us helpful hints and advice for celebrating our great nation, Australia Day—Celebrate What’s Great.
Because Aussies never know what to do on a day off.
Whilst Australia Day—Celebrate What’s Great is indeed a veritable hive of good ideas, the pick of the bunch is buried deep in the ‘education and games’ section; a document called, ‘True Blue? On Being Australian—Teaching and learning activities.’
So the government of Australia, that draws its legitimacy solely from the fact it was democratically elected by the citizens of Australia, has seen fit to use the money of the citizens of Australia to teach the citizens of Australia how to be…citizens of Australia.
That’s not putting the cart before the horse. That’s taking the cart back in time to before humans domesticated animals.
This document attempts to, and I quote, ‘problematise the notion of Australian identity for senior students’ and assures us that, ‘Being Australian also encompasses feelings, ideas and emotions that vary from joy to shame, guilt to confusion, hatred to love.’
Well, I certainly felt ‘confusion’ as I flicked through this document. And I think it’s a ‘shame’ that someone has seen fit to spend public money on it.
But then I came across this gem, ‘What role do negative events in our history have in forming national identity? You might consider how Japan and Germany have addressed the histories of their nations in World War II.’
And I guess that’s the problem when governments take it upon themselves to meander clumsily into areas such as ‘identity’ which are clearly the province of the individual. Sometimes they get it sort of right, sometimes they get it sort of wrong and sometimes they encourage secondary school students to view their country’s past like Germans see the Third Reich.