The call to change the date of Australia Day has been heating up for years, so what does it mean to celebrate Australia in 2020?
Australians have had a rough few months. Unprecedented natural disasters have left families without homes and an estimated half a billion animals have perished. So celebrating Australia as nation has never been more important for morale but for a lot of Aussies, the 26th of January isn’t cause for celebration.
- On the 26th of January 1788 British troops landed in Port Jackson along with the First Fleet and raised the British flag at Sydney Cove. Since then the 26th of January has been celebrated in some capacity.
- For First Nations people the date is a stark reminder of the maltreatment and persecution their ancestors faced when British troops invaded Australia.
- Although it’s seen as a contemporary concern, in 1938 Australia Day celebrations were accompanied by an Aboriginal Day of Mourning.
- In 2019 Scott Morrison announced that councils should hold citizenship ceremonies on only the 26th of January and 17th of September.
Change the Date Movement
While most Australians would agree that the national day of celebration should be inclusive of all Australians, whether they be Indigenous or not, a large number of them are opposed to changing the date. Various reasons have been thrown around as to why the date shouldn’t be changed. Most of them come down to the fact that it’s inconvenient to change the date and the fact that most Aussies want a public holiday in the summer months. A number of dates have been thrown around but the main one is January 1st. Since, on January 1st 1901 The Commonwealth of Australia came to fruition. Other potential dates include January 28th, March 12th and May 9th.
There are different factions of the movement with some taking a more extreme approach to those in favour of keeping the date. The Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance say that Australians are living on stolen land and they are 250 years in arrears. They accept money, or as they call it, rent at their marches. For Australians with European ancestry, the 26th of January doesn’t hold a large amount of significance, however, for First Nations people, it’s the date their ancestor’s lives changed forever. In 1888, NSW Premier Henry Parkes had this to say about Indigenous people celebrating 26th of January “And remind them that we have robbed them?”
What do you think LiveTribers, are you for or against changing the date?