Traditionally, Australia Day is a day to celebrate the nation’s numerous achievements and successes, both culturally and economically. But it also has been a source of deep division between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians. With this in mind, it’s important to ask the question every year of whether Australia Day actually brings people together.
The 26th of January marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet to Sydney Cove in 1788, which many interpret as when the British began colonising Australia. While this event is celebrated around the country, it brings up many painful memories for Indigenous Australians who were dispossessed of their land and subjected to centuries of oppression. For them, this day is not a cause for celebration but rather a reminder of the trauma suffered by their ancestors at the hands of British colonialists.
The debate over Australia Day has been raging for decades, with the discussion of whether it should remain a national holiday or be moved to another date among those who would like to see it changed. There are many pros and cons associated with either decision, but it continues to polarise Australians on an emotional level.
At its core, this debate is about the values and identity of the nation, and whether Australia Day should be used to celebrate those values or to recognise and acknowledge the pain suffered by Indigenous Australians. While supporters of keeping 26 January as a national holiday argue that it celebrates our culture and history, critics note that it does not represent everyone’s view of Australia.
Pros and Cons of Australia Day
Let’s explore the pros and cons of Australia Day:
- Australia Day is a day to celebrate the nation’s culture, history and achievements. It can bring Australians together in pride and appreciation of what it means to be an Australian.
- It offers the opportunity for people from different backgrounds to come together in harmony, regardless of ethnicity or religion.
- It can be an opportunity for us to celebrate our unique identity and diversity, with celebrations including the flying of flags and parades.
- For some Indigenous Australians, celebrating Australia Day on 26 January marks the anniversary of invasion and dispossession.
- Some argue that Australia Day fails to celebrate the true spirit of ‘Australianness’, focusing instead on a historical narrative that glosses over some of the darker aspects of Australia’s history.
- Some people find public displays of patriotism or nationalism uncomfortable and off-putting.
As Australians, we need to celebrate every member of society, no matter their background, religion or cultural origin. We should strive to make the day feel inclusive and create a sense of belonging for everyone in our community. Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s past and present, celebrate its diversity and progress, as well as remember and honour those who fought for us to be here today. Sadly, some feel that the day isn’t inclusive in its current guise.
With various Online Learning Resources, it’s important to learn more and teach children about the diversity of Australian history, while looking ahead to the future. Through education, we can help foster respect and understanding among Australians regardless of background or identity – bringing us all together in celebration of Australia Day.
By striving for greater inclusion and ensuring that everyone is represented in our national celebrations, we can create a day that allows all Australians to celebrate. Do you believe that the date should change? What is the solution?