A leading Indigenous academic has dismissed calls to change the date of Australia Day as a futile gesture that would make zero difference to the lives of Aboriginal people.
Professor Megan Davis told the Sydney Morning Herald that moving the national day from January 26 would generate a “warm and fuzzy notion of reconciliation” while changing nothing.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous at UNSW said Australians should vote for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and only when that was successful should they move Australia Day to a different date.
“Supporting ‘change the date’ is fine, but really supporting the referendum and the Voice to Parliament is something that's actually going to make a difference on the ground,” she said.
“(Moving Australia Day) is a tactile reform. So if changing the date comes after that (the Voice), that makes a lot of sense, but to change the date without any substantive reform, it's a symbolic move.'
Davis was one of the architects of the 2017 Uluru Statement From the Heart that has resulted in the Albanese government pushing for constitutional change to establish an Indigenous-only body that provides official advice to the Parliament on behalf of all Aboriginal people.
Davis argues the Voice would allow Aboriginals to be part of a democratic system “in a way they haven't been up till now”.
The Albanese government has said there will be a referendum on the Voice this year but that details would be worked out by MPs after the public had voted.
The Liberal Party has criticised the lack of detail while the National Party has announced it will not support the referendum.