Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Just say sorry.

Just say sorry.

Ava Warhaftig

Year 7

“If people only remember me for my football, I've failed in life.” This inspiring and effective quote was intelligently said by Adam Goodes, an Aboriginal rights activist and an immensely famous  AFL player. He risked his career, to produce an improved future for the Aboriginals. Although, his actions to repair the racism that indigenous people have had to face, will never heal their pain and suffering. This is why, I strongly urge, that there should be a public Holiday commemorating Aboriginal Rights!

Imagine a world where innocent children are plundered from their homes, removed from their families. This is a world, that Indigenous families had to live in. The stolen generation had a major impact on the Indigenous community. I believe, that a public holiday should be established to serve as a reminder for future generations of Australians, about the struggles and injustices that the Aboriginal people have had to face. The history of the Aboriginal people is an important part of Australian history, and public holidays mark significant events in history.  Consequently, it is irresponsible to not have a public holiday celebrating Indigenous rights!

If there is a public holiday for Aboriginal rights, then future generations will have a constant reminder and opportunity to reflect on the current and past struggles of the indigenous communities around Australia. There is still a long way to go to make amends and correct the wrongs of the past.           However, the creation of this day will help unify the nation in a way that Australia Day does not. This is because it celebrates a white man settlement in Australia. This is a day of sorrow for the Indigenous community and annually reminds them of their misfortunes. It is time that we have a day of recognition for the original owners of the land!

Are people born prejudiced, or are they influenced by their upbringing and society that they have been exposed to? In my opinion, prejudice is not something that is innate. Prejudiced can be passed down from generation to generation, creating a situation where nothing is ever questioned or understood, and ignorance prevails. An example of this is where racism towards Indigenous people is instilled in a child's mind and forms a crucial part of their beliefs. This can help to explain why the stolen generation endured for sixty years before it was recognised as something that was morally wrong at every level. A public holiday to raise awareness for Aboriginal rights can gradually change the mindset of those who have had prejudiced beliefs for far too long.

We live in a climate of change. Thankfully, we now recognise same-sex marriage. In my opinion, now is the time to correct the biggest wrong in our young history. That is the discrimination and lack of reconciliation with the Indigenous community. A public holiday will provide hope and optimism for those that have suffered, while simultaneously, through education and publicity, change the perspective of those who discriminate and disrespect the Aboriginals! After all, isn't it time that we stand as a unified nation and say “sorry” and actually mean it?