If you are an Australian, then you are aware of the debate that surrounds Australia day being on the 26th of January. In fact, every year around December, the debate starts over again. Many are asking whether Australia Day should be on January 26th.
Out of the other 364 days that could be chosen, why January 26th? Well, most people assume that the reason this day was chosen because that’s when the First Fleet landed in Australia.
But that’s actually a false assumption. And that’s one of many reasons why Australia Day should be changed from January 26th to some other more suitable day.
Why should Australia Day be changed? Read on to see what those reasons could be and why there is a serious push from the Aborigine community and others to do an Australia Day date change.
1. It’s Not the Day the First Fleet Landed in Australia
When is Australia Day? It’s assumed by all Australians that January 26th was the day that the First Fleet landed in the land that more than 500 indigenous groups and about 750,000 people occupied.
But that’s inaccurate. In fact, the real date is actually somewhere a week or so before January 26th. That’s when the First Fleet landed on Sydney’s Botany Bay.
They considered it unsuitable to raise the Union Jack (flag) and moved to Sydney Cove instead.
The entire premise upon which this Australia Day is based is shoddy and thus, the idea that this day should be celebrated is farcical. No wonder so many people believe that the date should be changed to any other day in the year!
2. It’s Insensitive to the Plight of the Indigenous Community
Not only is the date inaccurate about the First Fleet landing, but more than that, why is Australia as a nation that considers itself a humanitarian one, celebrating the day when the annihilation of the 500 indigenous groups began?
It seems ridiculous to consider that any nation should be celebrating the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people who were in ‘Australia’ first.
By the 1900s, the indigenous population was reduced by 90%, through a systematic method of displacement, and indoctrination of the tribes into the British culture.
Considering that, celebrating Australia Day on January 26th seems like an insensitive way to pay tribute to all those atrocities.
3. It’s One of Many Days That Could Potentially Be Australia Day
The interesting thing is that out of the 364 other days that could be potentially celebrated as Australia Day, why this day was particularly chosen is mystifying?
It’s also not like this day has been celebrated for a very long time. It was only in 1994, 26 years ago, that it officially became a public holiday. Until that point, Australians celebrated it in varying forms.
Indigenous groups have been protesting against celebrating January 26th as any sort of public holiday for 90 years now!!! That’s a full 64 years before the day became an official holiday. This is why the date of Australia Day should be changed.
It’s like an official slap in the face of the Aboriginal people. It’s like the government said to them, “Yes, we know you don’t like this, but guess what, we are going to make it official now, so there.”
But why not some other day — how about the day that Australia garnered independence from the British empire, i.e., 9th October?
That seems like a more appropriate day to celebrate Australia’s independence and sovereignty rather than January 26th.
Why not that day instead of a day that signifies the death of native cultures that occupied Australia for more than 60,000 years before?
4. It’s Not a Day of Celebration for the Aboriginal Community
What is Australia Day to Aboriginals? For years now, Aboriginal people have said that January 26th is not a day of celebration for them. In fact, they label it a ‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Invasion Day’, or ‘Survival Day.’
Considering that the Aboriginal people and their culture is an inherent part of Australia and its history, labeling a day they deem as derogatory and unworthy to be called Australia Day, should be taken into account.
It’s like ignoring the pleas and plights of the biggest populace of what makes Australia uniquely Australia.
In fact to all Aboriginals, January 26th marks the beginning of a long-standing oppressive regime that took away their rights, their unique cultures, and their resources.
Why would the Aborigines wish to celebrate this day every year? And why would the Australian government want to remind them every year of what was done to them? Isn’t that the epitome of cruelty?
Crazily enough, it wasn’t until 2008 that the then prime minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized to the Aboriginals for the atrocities committed against them, like forced child removals and cultural destruction through assimilation.
5. It’s Not at All Inclusive
As one Aboriginal person said, ‘You don’t visit someone’s house, rape, and pillage them, and then tell them you are going to celebrate that day as their birthday.’
This is especially so if you want to be a nation known for its inclusivity and multiculturalism.
In fact, Australia comes in the top five nations for inclusiveness, only be beaten by Canada, USA, South Africa, and France.
But Australia Day ends up being a blight on this picture-perfect scene. If Australia wants to maintain its image as an inclusive and equality-based nation, then it needs to go back to its roots and change the date that they celebrate Australia Day.
That’s where it all began, that’s where Australia first started as it is known now, and that’s where it needs to change first. A good house requires a great foundation, and a great nation requires a solid ground as well.
It begins with treating well the people who were there first.
6. Many Australians Think the Day Should Be Changed
Even though many Australians are apathetic about the date that Australia Day should be held (56% polled said they didn’t care about it), other Australians, including Aboriginals want the date changed.
If it doesn’t really matter to most people when Australia Day is held, but it does to the Aboriginal community, then why not just change the date of Australia Day?
It’s not like it’s such a big deal to most.
But there are some, like prime minister Scott Morrison who believes that the day should remain as it is. Obviously, he isn’t considering the full picture and the entire experience of all the Australian citizens.
The problem here isn’t whether a couple of prime ministers agree with the debate of changing the date of Australia day or not. It’s that a full community of people, who are directly hurt and traumatized by the chosen date, say that it should be changed.
7. Australia Day Is More Than Just a Day for Many
What is Australia Day? Many Australians might not care which day Australia Day is held on, but for others, it is a day of major celebrations.
In fact, it’s a day when many immigrants become Australian citizens, which is a day of great joy for them – to be finally included as an official member of a family and country they love so much.
A record number of 27,000 people were bestowed with Australian citizenship on January 26th, 2020.
But every celebration, every BBQ, every family gathering, is tainted by the knowledge that this day was the beginning of the end for many Aboriginal people. It took only 120 years to eliminate 90% of them.
They had been living on this land now called ‘Australia’ for more than 60,000 years and most were all gone within a bit more than a century.
8. Many Have Already Decided to Celebrate Another Day Themselves
Maybe some Australians don’t think about the negative connotations of celebrating Australia Day on a day with such bloody history, but many think it’s unacceptable.
In fact, many have decided to join the movement of ‘Change It Ourselves.’ Instead of waiting for the governments to do something about it, they have decided to take the first step themselves.
Many companies have actually started giving their employees another day off, like January 27th, and leaving January 26th as a working day. Of course, many employees can choose to take both days off, so they can be with their families.
But it’s the thought that counts.
And no, it’s not being unpatriotic. In fact, if you consider that the Aboriginals are the backbone of the Australian nation, then it’s actually being highly patriotic to support this change the date Australia Day to some other day.
Do You Support Changing Australia Day?
Should we change Australia Day? The conclusion is quite simple. If you would like to portray Australia as the inclusive and multicultural nation it already is, then one way to do it is to change the day of Australia Day.
Let’s show the Aboriginals that they are a true and essential part of the unique inclusivity that makes up Australia.
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