CELEBRATING Australia Day on January 26 has historically been a source of sorrow and anguish for Australia’s First Nations people, and key leaders within Port Adelaide’s playing group have used a team meeting to discuss why.

The club has issued a statement this morning supporting a push for the national celebration to be moved to a date in which “everyone feels proud, included and unified”.

Port Adelaide has a proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in its playing ranks and amongst its staff, directors and volunteers.

It runs industry-leading education programs which help young First Nations people to finish school and find opportunities beyond their schooling.

The club’s statement was created in consultation with its Aboriginal Community Programs Manager, Braedon Talbot, Aboriginal Programs Officer, Christine Glenn, former player and current staff member Shaun Burgoyne and current player Karl Amon.

Amon addressed the playing group during Tuesday’s team meeting, describing the push to change the date of Australia Day as a controversial idea which had gained a lot of momentum in recent times.

He applauded the club for its strong stance.

“We want to have a strong stance because what we do off the field with our programs and our past with Indigenous players – it’s such a strong history – and this is a movement we as a club want to (be part of),” Amon explained to his teammates and coaches.

“Australia Day is something that our people mark as a genocide day. It’s the day the British came into Sydney and raised their flag for the first time.

“They came to Australia knowing that we were already here and they came with this idea of Terra Nullius, which is that the land belongs to nobody.

“It is a sad day in our history and it’s something we want to change.”

In a week where the Aboriginal flag was freed of commercial rights for use by anyone, Amon said changing the date of Australia Day was the next important change in Australia’s reconciliation process.

“What we want Australia Day to be is a celebration of the world’s longest living culture and what Australia has become today,” Amon explained. “It’s such a diverse country that is inclusive of everyone, wherever you come from, whether you were born here or in a different country.

“That’s what we want Australia Day to be known as in the future. The fact we’re having this conversation today is a start in the right direction. I’d like to thank the club for having this strong stance.”

Burgoyne echoed Amon’s sentiments, encouraging the group to educate itself and continue the conversation.

“We want an Australia Day that everyone can celebrate and be proud of, that doesn’t represent a lot of sadness,” the four-time premiership player said.

“I do thank the club for taking a strong stance on this. Now, we push forward and hopefully one day in the near future we can have a day on which all Australians, all of multicultural Australia, can celebrate that doesn’t represent sadness.”

Captain Tom Jonas thanked Amon and Burgoyne for driving the discussion within the club and told them the playing group would support the push for a date change.

“We should as non-Indigenous Australians stand here really proud to support our brothers and represent something they are so passionate about and hopefully we are all passionate about,” he said.

“Let’s really drive it as a playing group. We’re a brotherhood and we look out for our brothers.”