‘Day of pain and sorrow for First Nations people’: Bulldogs, Power call for Australia Day date change
AFL clubs Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs have released powerful statements calling for the date of Australia Day to change.
It comes just days after Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins, then star batter Steve Smith, both voiced their push for a rethink on the January 26 public holiday.
AFL clubs have released statements in recent years, acknowledging the date is full of sadness for Australia’s Indigenous people.
But Port and the Bulldogs’ stance is stronger than ever, coming on Thursday, a day before Australia Day is officially marked.
“The Port Adelaide Football club acknowledges our First Nations people’s continuous connection to these lands for more than 60,000 years, and that the 26th of January represents a day of immense sadness and sorrow for many in our community,” the Power’s statement reads.
“The Port Adelaide Football club respects that everyone has the right to their own views.
“The board, staff and players of the Port Adelaide Football club support changing the date.”
January 26 has long been a difficult symbol for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people given it marks the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet into Sydney Cove and the raising of the Union Jack.
Many proponents of a date change have dubbed January 26 as Invasion Day.
Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen and other Bulldogs players, including captain Marcus Bontempelli, were filmed discussing why Australia Day should move to another date.
“It’s amazing to celebrate the life we live in Australia, who we are,” Johannisen said.
“For me, it’s just ridiculous how it could be set on a date that has so much pain and emotional attachment to Indigenous people.”
Exciting Bulldogs forward Arthur Jones labelled January 26 a “day of mourning”.
“Going to the march with all the boys last year… it’s called Survival Day in our term, the oldest culture alive,” he said.
Premiership midfielder Tom Liberatore added: “The longer I’ve spent time with First Nations people, particularly teammates now, to hear what you’ve got to say and hear what you’ve been through, allows me to understand a lot more,” he said.
“It’s only a positive thing to change the date.”