Australia Day is here to stay

The dabate over Australia Day hasn’t raged too much this year (yet), but I’d like to add my own view.

Why January 26 and why is it controversial?

January 26 has been Austaralia’s official day since 1994, after it was agreed upon in 1988. Before 1994, January 26 was celebrated, but not in every State and Territory.

This has become a significan’t day, not just for many Australians, but also many migrants who are eligible for citizenship. Citizenship ceremonies are held by local councils across the country on that day, (and if Prime Minister Scott Morrison keeps getting his way, it’s staying that way).

Achievements are also acknowledged and various awards, such as the Australian of the Year and Young Australian of the Year are given out. People are nominated by the public and are chosen by a panel. These people are believed to have made a great contribution to Australia, whether in science, education, charity or a sociaal cause.

January 26 1788 was when the First Fleet from Britain came to Australia. This is when the world for Aboriginal people started to crash down; a start of a number pf years when many Aboriginal people lost their home and culture.

This is why Australia Day is such a controversial and sensitive topic for some Aboriginal and non – Aboriginal people alike. It’s dubbed Invasion Day by a number of critics. A number of people equate it to the loss of culture, family (i.e. the Stolen Generations) and grief. I’m really sympathetic to people who feel that way, I do.

Why Australia Day is hear to stay

Despite debate and controversy, polls suggest that the majority of Australians favour Australia Day remaining on January 26. A Guardian Essential poll from 2017 revealed that 70% of respondents wanted Australia Day to remain on January 26. An article in by the ABC reported that a poll indicated that most people aren’t too fussed about what day Australia Day is celebrated.

Why is this? Maybe people don’t think too much about the history of the day. Unfortunately, I think it’s fair to say that many people may be apathetic to what has happened in history. However, it may be a bit more complicated than that.

Aboriginal people who support January 26 being Australia Day (or don’t protest it).

Not all Aboriginal people support in changing Australia Day. Alice Springs councillor, Jacinta Price is one of them. She argues that the 26 January, despite all the negative impacts of colonisation, is an important day in Australia, shaping the way it is today.

It’s a very significan’t date in our country’s history.

Jacinta Price, SBS 26 January 2018

Price argues the positive of British settlement, including her own existence (her mother, Bess Price is Aboriginal and her father is Caucasian. Price has been more critical of social issues, like domestic violence (Aboriginal women are more than thirty times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than non – aAboriginal women. She goes against the narrative of blaming the trauma caused by settlement, and instead has been critical of attitudes about women that are common in a number of Aboriginal communities.

Former Labor president, now member for Liberals, Warren Mundine has mixed feelings. While he is uncomfortable ablut January 26 and its meaning, he has resolved not to protest it. According to The Australian, Mundine argued that there were more “pressing issues” facing Aboriginal communities.

I’ll alwa6s say that, if you don’t like the day Australia Day falls on, you have every right to not celebrate it. If you have mixed, uneasy feelings about it, that’s OK. Nationally, however, momentum to change the date isn’t stron enough.

What do you think about the date 26 January for Australia Day? Let me knpw in the comments below.

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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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