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Changing the Date

Posted on 10 January, 2017

Historically, January 26th in Australia is a day that marks invasion, genocide and dispossession. Using that date as Australia Day - ostensibly an occasion to celebrate our country - is offensive and disrespectful.

There is a growing movement to change the date of Australia Day, due to many passionate and thoughtful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices over the years. This has in turn led to a recent article and campaign driven by The Saturday Paper. Given we cannot expect our politicians to lead us to a more respectful celebration, we need to look at other avenues for action.

The symbol at play, like the nationalism it supports, is juvenile and ill formed. The day on which we celebrate this country is a day of disharmony.

Eric Jensen, The Saturday Paper

With all of this in mind, we at Limbr will not be treating January 26th as a public holiday. Instead, we will celebrate the Australia we want to see on Mabo Day, June 3rd.

Perhaps in the future there’ll be an even better date (perhaps when we have treaties with the First Nations of this continent), but we feel this is an excellent placeholder for the time being.

My cofounder Dave and I realise that people may already have plans for the 26th. We’re happy for our team to take the day off if needed, but encourage them to spend the day at work otherwise. Also: Mabo Day falls on a Saturday this year, so we’ll be taking June 2nd as the Mabo Day Holiday.

Of course, we’re currently just five people with an existing flexible approach to work hours, so these changes are logistically not a big challenge for us. We’d love to see other organisations - especially larger ones - step up and make similar decisions.

We’re well aware that changing the date is just one aspect of the greater injustices directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. What we’re doing is just one small step forward towards a more inclusive, respectful Australia.

Really, that’s why we’re writing about this - not to glorify what we’re doing, but rather to stand up for the values we want our society to reflect, to add our voice in support of a better Australia, and to encourage our peers to do the same.