ANZAC Day & the elephant in the room

CEO Social Justice Blog

ANZAC Day continues to grow in popularity in Australia as a special day in our annual calendar where we remember people who have suffered greatly in times of warfare.

Back in the 1970s many of us thought ANZAC Day would eventually disappear. This was the time of the anti-war movement, particularly the Vietnam War and many people felt warfare would fade away into history. People returning from war in Vietnam were treated very poorly by the general community and I am pleased that they are now treated with the respect they deserve, along with people who had military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. They and their families should be recognised for their hardship and suffering which inevitably is part of warfare. Even if we feel war is futile and usually unnecessary, we should acknowledge and respect those people who give up their lives in serving their country.

There is however a large elephant in the drawing room of Australia and that involves the lack of recognition and discussion of the warfare which took place at the time of European Settlement here.

As we know from the Welcome to Country speeches that are conducted each week throughout Australia, land and territory has always been important for Aboriginal people. They did not give up their land without a struggle but we fail to recognise these struggles in our national days of celebration and in the Australian Constitution.

We really must make a big effort at some stage to celebrate all our history, including the bits we prefer to overlook.