On This Oz Day

January 26th is Australia day, and what a good year to talk about the land down under, where changes are taking place that have caught my attention in a positive way.

Prior to his election, I confess I didn’t know much about the new Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Observers in and around Australia said that he was different, a man who would shake things up… they even called him an environmentalist.

Obviously time will tell how much he is or is not the real deal when it comes to an Australian leader who challenges the status quo. But in the last month he has already gotten my full attention, especially when he formally apologized and re-enforced the plan to pay reparations to Aboriginal people in Tasmania.

Throughout the 18 and 1900’s, aboriginal people of Tasmania were subjected to diseases and sicknesses brought over with European settlers. Between 1800 and 1833 their population decreased from 6,000 to 300. Later other attrocities would take place, with children of aboriginal people being taken away from them by the government, or when a christian missionary promised a safe place to live on another island for the remaining people, and when they arrived they were left to their own devices, once again facing starvation, disease, and death.

Which a history like this, seems rather insulting to celebrate Australia day. But what I’d like to do instead is celebrate some overdue positive steps in Australia, towards coming to grips with history, as well as the present. Not to mention, finally electing leaders and adopting policies that reflect an compassionate, forward thinking, and mature society.