Racist groups on social media are using Australia Day to challenge who counts as Australian, and what being Australian means. They are spreading a message that those born in Australia are “Indigenous Australians” regardless of whether they have any connection to Aboriginal peoples or Torres Strait Islanders, offending both actual Indigenous Australians whose first people status they are blotting out, and those who have immigrated to Australia from across the globe and have become first generation Australians.
Different people have different views on what January 26 means to them, including the Indigenous view which rejects holding our national day on this date and instead refers to it as Invasion Day / Survival Day, but one thing almost all Australians can agree on is that this is not a day for promoting racism and exclusion. The push for exclusion and bigotry by the far right “patriots” is simply put unAustralian and unwelcome at any time, especially on January 26th.
To counter such hate the Online Hate Prevention Institute has announced a day-long campaign “Unity in Diversity on Australia Day”. The campaign has two parts: the first is the promotion of positive Australian values, sharing what we have in common as Australians in 2016; the second part is a campaign to report bigotry and racism seen on January 26th. We’re asking supporters to report any hate speech they encounter on social media first to the platform and then to our FightAgainstHate.com online hate reporting tool. This will allow us to track what’s reported and how the social media companies respond to those reports.
Below are a few early examples of how Australia Day is being used to promote racism and bigotry:
The Facebook page Reclaim Australia Rally – Australia Wide (ID: 762398587169729) shared a post about Australia Day, and while the image isn’t itself hate, what followed (and was not removed by the page) clear was.
The responses attacked Muslims, Indigenous people, and anyone who speaks up for their rights to a meaningful engagement within Australian politics. Those attacked were branded as unpatriotic and declared not entitled to celebrate Australia Day. Indigenous Australians, who rightfully view January 26th as the day their colonisation began, and hence, an inappropriate day for the country’s National Day, were dismissed as unpatriotic and subjected to vile racist remarks. The Muslims were assumed to not want to participate in the celebrations. The thread had a tenor of “Love or Leave It” style patriotism, where arguments against celebrating on January 26th were not to be debated, but labeled as invalid and unpatriotic.
The commentary below excluded Australian Muslims from celebrating the day, and particularly, from using the Australian flag to display their love and connection with the country.
Please help us share this briefing, and the campaign page at http://ohpi.org.au/australiaday so more people can join in and help us report more of the hate on Australia Day.
You can also support OHPI on our Facebook page and stay updated by joining our mailing list. We welcome all donations to the crowd funding appeal to support the promotion of our Australia Day campaign against hate and bigotry and in support of our shared Australian values.