The World’s Most Popular Website Just Ripped The Rug Out From Under Australia Day

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If you were hoping to wake up to an all ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’ Australia Day this morning, then whatever you do, don’t log onto the world’s largest website.

In a stunning departure from convention, today’s ‘Google Doodle’ – the picture that adorns the Google logo, and changes based on the significance of the day – has delivered what surely must be the most overtly political statement in world Google history.

Over to Google for the explanation: “Doodle 4 Google 2015 was won by Ineka Voigt from Canberra High School in ACT, for her entry ‘Stolen Dreamtime’,” explains the corporate giant.

“In response to the theme of ‘If I could travel back in time I would…’ Ineka wrote “… I would reunite mother and child. A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was… all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime”.

Ineka Voigt, with her winning artwork, entitled 'Stolen Dreamtime'.
Ineka Voigt, with her winning artwork, entitled ‘Stolen Dreamtime’.

It’s hard to imagine a more pointed political statement – reminding non-Aboriginal Australians on Australia Day of the price that other people have paid for their privilege.

Of course, the notion that Aboriginal people should celebrate the very date that marks their dispossession, the theft of their land and their slaughter, is obviously insane. Almost as insane as suggesting ‘it’s time to move’ – imagine, as a non-Aboriginal Australian, if you were told to ‘move on’ from Anzac day? You can read a simple guide to why January 26 is such an offensive date to celebrate ‘Australia Day’ here.

But back to Google – one of the judges for the Google Doodle is renowned Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft, along with ARTEXPRESS curator Leeanne Carr.

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“Along with Google’s other judges [they]agreed that Ineka’s tremendous art work deserved pride of place on the Google homepage,” Leticia Lentini, Brand and Events Marketing Manager, Google Australia explains.

“It’s a powerful and beautiful image that is not only a brilliant artwork, but helps bring attention to the critical issue of reconciliation in Australia.

“We’re proud to have it on our homepage today.”

Which begs the question… if a foreign corporation can get it, why can’t the Australian Government? And why can’t most of the rest of our nation?

While globally, Google hosts a staggering 6 billion-plus searches a day, the Australian Google Doodle can only be seen from searches conducted in Australia – alas, Australia’s black past won’t be broadcast to the world.

Past Google Doodles for January 26.
Past Google Doodles for January 26.

Past Australia Day Google Doodles have been noticeably apolitical – pictured right, they include kids building a sand castle, some Australian bush scenes, fireworks, and the obligatory Australian wildlife artwork featuring a kangaroo.

On that front, there’s one small improvement Google might consider for next year.

The 2016 Google Doodle links to a search result listing ‘Australia Day’ – an explanation of the ‘commemoration’ around January 26, rather than a link to Invasion/Survival Day, and the reasons why it is so obviously grossly offensive. The latter might help ram home the point even more in 2017.

Even so, credit where it’s due – a global internet giant (and a young girl from Canberra) have just helped change the Australian conversation a little bit more.

Times, they definitely are a-changing.

The author of this article, Chris Graham, tweets here. You can follow New Matilda on Twitter here. You can follow New Matilda on Facebook here.

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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