Australia Day: National Holiday? or Day of Disgrace?

Amanda "Gizmo" Lanham Student Liason Officer


January 26, 2019

For many Australians, it’s a day off in the middle of Summer to enjoy the sun, have a few drinks with friends and celebrate what being an Australian means to us. It’s a day we would love to celebrate Australian culture, our amazing land and the connection between our amazing multicultural people.

We just need to question the day we celebrate.

It’s the day that the first fleet of British ships arrived at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788. It’s very much a white history day and doesn’t acknowledge and in many cases, offends, our First people who’ve lived here for the last 50 - 70 000 years. By some, it’s called invasion day or survival day – definitely not a reminder of celebration or the uniting of cultures.

Ask around – see what your fellow classmates and new Aussie friends think about “Australia Day”, is there conversation welcomed about whether this is an appropriate day to be celebrating and what it means for them? Is there a reason it can’t be moved to better respect and be inclusive of our first people? What can you learn about the oldest living culture in the world – there is plenty to learn and a large proportion of Australian people are just as ‘in the dark’ about it as you may be as a traveller. I know I was until I met a ranger in Kakadu National Park who turned the world upside down for me while telling the most incredible stories of our First people and the depth and breadth of their amazing culture.

Also - it’s only officially been a national holiday since 1994, it’s such a young holiday nationally – so why not change it to a day which is a less offensive reminder.

Alternatives could be:

  • May 8… Who doesn’t love a MATE in Australia?
  • Or April the 11th: the day the White Australia Policy was abolished
  • First day of summer anyone? December 1 – start the holiday season with a celebratory summer day off.
  • Could we add another holiday to acknowledge our first people as well, a unique day that is valued for all that we can learn from the oldest living culture in the world…

Ask some questions of your fellow Aussie mates…

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