We need to change the date
As the national conversation about 'Australia Day' continues to take place around us without a shared conclusion, at Meld we have decided to start the process of changing it for ourselves. As a collective, we feel that January 26th is not a day of celebration. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders People, January 26th marks the beginning of widespread erasure of culture, people, traditional practises and connection to Country. When the First Fleet arrived there were more than 500 First Nations groups and about 750,000 First Nations people living in Australia. Colonisation was not a collaboration. It was brutal, forceful and it created widespread displacement, famine and death of First Nations people.
At Meld Studios we believe January 26th is where we collectively acknowledge our true history and instead see this as a day of reconciliation with First Nations People, learning and giving respect to ALL people.
We need to change the day. We must not use the start of colonisation as a day of celebrating this nation.
We have started taking steps at Meld to establish how best to do our part towards this. We conducted an internal poll to understand if individual Meldsters want Meld to stop acknowledging January 26th as 'Australia Day'. All Meldsters voted that January 26th should not be a day of celebration and now the challenge lies within what to do about it as January 26th is recognised as a statutory holiday in Australia. We asked Meldsters what our next best step should be:
- We should take a quiet day off without celebrating or marking the day.
- Allow individual employees to take another day in lieu of working that day - with consideration for the history of Country and the First Nations peoples.
- Collectively determine a date that recognises the history of ALL Australians and make a holiday of that day. OR this could be per studio e.g Gadigal and Wangal people may have different days of significance.
Most responses were a combination of 1 & 2, stating the coordination with their families who have the day off as the key reason they need to take January 26th off.
We have enabled Meldsters who would like to continue working on January 26th to do so while taking another day off and those who would like to take a day off to do so. We know this is not a long-term solution. We are dedicated to changing the date to a day that acknowledges First Nations peoples in the way they want to be acknowledged and we will continue to be a part of the conversation within our industry and with First Nations people. We would ultimately like to determine a more suitable day to celebrate Australia given the National Employment Standards provides provision to allow employees and employers to substitute any public holiday for another day. We would like to do this as a collective until Australia has officially changed the day.
We also acknowledge that investing time and energy into this conversation is a tiny part of the changes we need to make to close the gap and are conscious to concentrate our efforts where we know the greatest impact can be made. We continue to bring our RAP to life and embed new ways of working and being, especially elevating First Nations voices within the work we do.