Australia Day, January 26th. Do We Need To Reconsider?

1261 words - 6 pages

Australia Day is annually celebrated on the 26th of January; the date recognises the initiation of British sovereignty over Australia in 1788. The nation’s achievements since then are nothing short of outstanding. As regarded as a considerably young nation, we have realized extraordinary growth, expansion, development, stature and respect across the globe; and deemed our greatest achievement, our multiculturalism. Yet despite these momentous attributes and reason to celebrate, we choose to commemorate it on a day that for the vast majority of the population has no real significance whatsoever. Worse yet, for the indigenous population the day only serves to remind them, of their subjugation, ...view middle of the document...

Indigenous elder and former Social Justice Commissioner, Dr Tom Calma, shares this opinion, he agrees that the time calls for an informed and educated discussion about our nation’s history and its national day; and as such, Dr Calma says it should be an occasion for the whole nation to reconcile.
‘Enjoy the day as a public holiday; celebrate it in a way that the individual feels is most important. But do it as a way to reconcile, so that we as a nation can work together.’ – Dr Tom Calma (Freri, 2014)
Contributing to this outlook, many are convinced that perhaps the title of Australia Day should be changed rather than the date. To turn the emphasis towards the idea of change, rather than the date itself; in turn society could really embrace the theme of reconciliation.

In the face of these views; growing support is favouring a change of date. In arguments that the use of the 26th of January as Australia Day alienates Indigenous Australians because it commemorates only the British sovereignty over Australia. Former Federal Labour Party President Warren Mundine contradicted the previous arguments that a new date would better reconcile the country.
‘It’s a unifying day that brings us all together and looks at the achievements of the nation and looks at the hard work we have to do in the future and how we can make this country a better place. So we need to differentiate that from the actual date of the 26th of January.’ - Warren Mundine
Despite the welcoming of a new date, there is much contention of what that date should be. The natural alternative to the current date is the 1st of January, which marks the anniversary of our federation. Given, however, that this date is also the first day of the New Year; this may render a large number of celebrants unfit to take part in the festivities. There has also in the past been strong support for merging ANZAC Day, the 25th of April with Australia Day; but it would be a disappoint to see the spirit of the Anzacs overlooked on this day. (Kelly, 2014) The 22nd of January should also be given some thought; as it is commonly regarded as being the date when the Battle for the Kokoda Track, sometimes referred to as the Battle for Australia ended in 1943 (Flanagan, 2012). The 9th of May, also holds significance in our country’s calendar, being the opening of the first federal Parliament in Melbourne in 1901. Others argue that Australia Day should be moved to the date of if and when the nation declares a republic.

But maybe the solution to the controversy is that the government does not change the date of Australia Day, but rather introduces a new day that enables Indigenous people to celebrate being the first Australians. A South...

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