Reflections on Australia Day

by Shweta Ramkumar

January 26th is a Public Holiday in both the countries I have lived in long term. In India, it represents the day when the country’s constitution came into effect in 1950 and is hence known as Republic Day. However, in Australia, this day has been subject to a lot of scrutiny, controversy, polarising viewpoints on its significance to the point of ongoing talks about abolishing the day altogether.

26th January is Australia Day. Since I moved here in 2002, I have learnt it as the day we became a part of the British commonwealth. For our country’s native residents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people such as my friend Michelle Gissara it represents a day of mourning and invasion as per her post. Historically, it commemorates the arrival of British ships to establish the first European settlement in order to make the country another British colony. Mainstream media tends to provide inaccuracies about the true facts of what actually happened on this day (As per posts included below) so the real significance of the day besides invasion, survival and mourning is something I’m still not fully familiar with.

I’ve always associated this day with expatriates and immigrants (myself included) getting their Australian citizenships, the Government giving awards to “Australians of the Year” for their achievements and contributions to the community and people acknowledge the opportunities, diversity in culture, exposure and their personal journeys over the number of years they have lived here. Traditionally, being summer, people tend to engage in outdoor activities such as going to the beach, on a road trip, hiking, camping, watching the Australian Open tennis and the infamous barbecue with beers and snags while catching up with loved ones to soak up the remainder of sunshine for a while.

For me personally, this day is treated like any other public holiday where I either do one of the traditional Aussie summer activities or relax at home, more out of personal enjoyment than celebration. I also use this day to reflect on my personal journey since moving here, the challenges I’ve faced, the achievements I’ve had, the opportunities and communities this country has exposed me to and my quality of life here which would’ve been practically impossible back in India. I feel grateful to call a country home where my identity, beliefs, career and life choices as a woman have rarely been questioned or judged and for the most part people here have welcomed me with open arms, respected and accepted me for who I am. The diversity over the years have made me feel a lot more settled, connected and belonged and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Fellow Australians, no matter what this day means to you, be sensitive and respectful to everyone’s journeys and let’s stand united as one in this diverse and rich landscape we’re privileged to call Home.

Hi, I'm Shweta

I coach non-native English speaking healthcare professionals how to advance in their career and build better relationships with their patients and colleagues by expressing themselves more articulately and confidently in the English language.

I work closely with healthcare professionals who work with patients regularly. I help them improve their communication skills when interacting with patients and colleagues, teach them how to show up authentically, assertively and articulately in their field of work in order for them to ultimately gain credibility, validation and respect.

If you work in a clinical role in the healthcare industry and would like to learn more about how to better connect and communicate openly with your clients / patients, book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call with me to see how I can best support you.

Shweta Ramkumar - English Language Confidence Coach

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