An Illawarra Aboriginal leader says the nationwide furore over a "racist" Aldi T-shirt shows Australians should celebrate the longevity of indigenous culture, not ignore it.
Discount supermarket Aldi was forced to pull some of its Australia Day clothing from shelves yesterday following social media pressure over the inflammatory design.
The discount supermarket had been criticised selling promotional T-shirts branded with "AUSTRALIA EST 1788" logos, advertised online.
After the furore sparked media coverage, an Aldi spokeswoman said the shirt would not be sold.
"The T-shirts and singlets were scheduled to go on sale on Saturday 11 January, 2014," she said.
"The remainder of the range will still be available to consumers at $4.99 each."
The shirts sparked an online backlash with people taking to social media to label the range racist and culturally insensitive to Aboriginal people, who inhabited the continent for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of the first fleet from England in 1788.
@conradhc We apologise for any offense taken in regards to our Australia Day T-shirts. We have passed your feedback on to the team.— ALDI Australia (@ALDIAustralia) January 7, 2014
Sharralyn Robinson, the acting CEO of the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council, said the fact Aboriginal culture went back tens of thousands of years was something of which Australians should be proud.
"We all have something that's very special - we are one of the oldest civilisations in the world," she said. Let's have some T-shirts that say that, maybe.
"It's just sad that we continue to get the facts wrong in this century.
"Let's try and get to really taking pride in the age of this country."
The supermarket was forced to act after Twitter users called for the range to be pulled from shelves.
Aldi also apologised for any offence caused by the range via its Twitter account.
According to the Australian Museum, the earliest fossilised remains found in Australia are about 40,000 years old, but humans arrived here more than 50,000 years ago.
The date 1788, referred to on the T-shirts, was the time when NSW was set up as a penal colony by the British, with the arrival of the first fleet of convicts.
The formerly separate penal colonies joined together as states of the nation in 1901.