It’s no secret that the date of Australia Day, namely, January 26th, has proved more than a little contentious. Dive beneath the surface celebrations of beers and sausages with all your mates. The date marks the arrival of British settlers in Australia and the beginning of the end for the Indigenous population and their culture. The ongoing influence of colonialism is evident in Australia: the mere fact that this day is a ‘celebration’ proves it.
‘Invasion Day’ has become the opposing name for January 26th, and rightly so. The push to change the date to both recognise the pain caused to Indigenous Australians, and change overall national attitude has been strong. Thousands protest every year for the cause. With each passing year, there seems to be growing support in changing the date. It isn’t however, a cut-and-dry case.
In a recent survey with the Social Research Centre, it was revealed that 70% of Australians believe that the date should stay the same. Within that percentage, only 29% acknowledge the offensiveness of keeping January 26th. The two most popular alternative dates are Reconciliation Day on May 27th, and Federation Day on January 1st.
From where we stand, it seems obvious that the date of Australia Day should be changed. After all, the day should be full of merriment for all Australians. Not the annual reminder of cultural genocide. At the end of the day, the root of a national day should be something positive, and not a source of division. Things like Triple J’s Hottest 100 moving their annual countdown to the day after seems like a step in the right direction, no matter how small the gesture. Without a doubt, it’s a sensitive and fraught topic. And it’s clear we still have a long way to go.