The debate surrounding our national day
Australia Day is a day to come together as a nation, to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. Sounds fun, right? A great excuse for a public holiday, a BBQ with mates, and time to enjoy what makes our wonderful country such a fabulous place to live.
But calls are growing for Australia Day to be moved – or cancelled altogether.
What’s all the fuss about?
- The date of Australia Day – 26th January – commemorates when the First Fleet arrived to begin British rule in Australia.
- But for many Aboriginal Australians, there’s little to celebrate on 26th For them it is instead the commemoration of a deep loss. Loss of their sovereign rights to their land, loss of family, and loss of the right to practice their culture.
- The Indigenous community, and those that support them, therefore believe it’s inappropriate to celebrate what’s great about Australia on this date. They instead see 26th January as Invasion Day, or a Day of Mourning.
- To understand more about Indigenous perspectives of Australia Day, you can read through some great information at Creative Spirits.
- And articles like this one here, and this one, express why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find Australia Day so offensive.
- An online search of #changethedate also reveals the mounting public support for changing the date of Australia Day.
But it’s always been on 26th January – why change it now?
Actually, it hasn’t.
- In outlining the history of Australia Day, the government’s Australia Day website explains that it wasn’t until 1935 that all Australian states and territories began to use that date and name.
- And it was as recently as 1994 that we started consistently celebrating Australia Day as a public holiday on 26th
So what’s the proposal?
Well this depends on who you’re talking to.
- Many would like to see the date of Australia Day moved. Suggested alternate dates include:
- 1st January, being the day of Australian Federation in 1901
- 13th February, the date PM Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generation in 2008
- 11th April, the date the White Australia Policy was abolished in 1973
- 27th May, the date Indigenous people were granted constitutional rights in 1967
- Many Australians are opposed to any suggestion of Australia Day being cancelled or moved to a different date.
- But there’s an equally strong belief that it’s time for Australia to create a more unified national day that embraces the wishes of all elements of our Australian community.
What do you think?