Living in the NT for the last 20ish years, having lived and taught in Gunbalanya (West Arnhem land) for 4 years where my kids were born, involved in cultural business and learnt a bit of Gunwinku (the local language) plus visiting many other Indigenous communities around the top end, i can say the date of Australia day is not they’re primary concern (not to negate those people for whom this issue is important though).
The way I see it, we can’t change history, but what we can do is recognise it. Without causing a fight, to me it seems the default ‘down south’ mode is to ignore Indigenous culture and history, and by changing the date would allow mainstream Australia to get on with celebrating BBQs, thongs and beach cricket safely in the knowledge that they can go back to not thinking about the first Australians.
Personally, I believe this ‘controversy’ around Australia day has been good as it shines a light on something most mainstream Australia ignores.
So I think we shouldn’t change the date, but instead, make it a day to both celebrate what we are now and commemorate what has happened, recognising that we can still do better. Kind of like Anzac day. And if people want to do that by having a BBQ in thongs on the beach, then great. If people want to do that by attending a celebration where Indigenous mob showcase cultural dance, and celebrating the world’s oldest living culture, then great.
But what’s more important is that we start to teach Indigenous history in our primary schools, and better yet focus on the local indigenous people of the specific area, their language and culture (regardless if that has been lost in those parts or not) and make it that all Australians, old and new, know OUR history, including pre-colonisation because we are all Australian and this may help us stop thinking in us and them, but rather think that all Australian cultures (Indigenous, Western, Mediterranean, Asian, etc) can come together and be united in celebrating the first Australians and the future Australians.
It’s not about changing a date, it’s about changing a nation.