Australia Day or Invasion Day: How should we commemorate the day?

Not everyone feels that Australia Day is a day worth celebrating. The bigger question remains: Does the holiday need a date change to become more inclusive?

Australia Day is a compromising time for many people in the country. For the indigenous community, Australia Day falls on the same date that the First Fleet arrived in the country.

Some label the day a celebration of the Australian way of life, of cultural and political freedoms, of mateship and comradery. While others call it Invasion Day, looking back at the country’s sordid past and the mistreatment of the nation’s first people, the oldest living culture on earth.

Talk back radio host, Steve Price, took to his regular Monday post on The Project last night and said that most people are happy with Australia Day falling on the date of the First Fleet’s arrival. But that isn’t the case for the many people who took to the streets and public spaces on Australia Day to express their conflict at celebrating a country’s colonisation when the result was so detrimental to the country’s first people.

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Hundreds of people walked from Redfern to the Yabun Festival in Victoria Park in Sydney as part of the Survival Day march. Indigenous actor, Jack Charles, also took part in his first Survival Day march, saying it was important to “[remind] everybody that we’re still here,” he said, according to SBS.

“We still claim that we’re a bonded group of all tribes, all different nations, coming together to commiserate and celebrate the fact that this is the white man’s day of celebration. We celebrate our survival,” he said.

Jesinta Campbell, who recently became engaged to indigenous sportsman, Lance “Buddy” Franklin, says Australia Day isn’t a celebration for many people in the country.

“You can’t go past the fact that Australia Day is also a very sad day for some people,” she said on morning news program, the Today show.

“For some people it’s called Invasion Day, for indigenous people, so I would like to see, moving forward, Aboriginal flags or the indigenous flags around studios and that, to me, would be a sign of really moving forward and the real Australia Day.”

But perhaps it was writer, Nakkiah Lui, who summed up her personal conflict about celebrating Australia Day in the Guardian, who explained it best.

“… Australia Day is a day of mourning. It is not a day to go over to my friends’ to sit in a blow up pool and get drunk, and it’s definitely not a day to wear red, white and blue while waving a flag with a Union Jack and a Southern Cross on it,” she wrote.

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“We do not celebrate the coming of the tall ships in Sydney’s harbour. Instead, we mourn the declaration of Australia as terra nullius (land that belongs to no one) as well as those who have died in massacres, those who were dispossessed of their land and homes, those who were denied their humanity, those who were shackled, beaten, sent to prison camps, and made to live in reserves. We mourn those who have died in the resistance.

“Most people just want a day to celebrate the place that they call home, to be part of a community, and to guide Australia into the future. I am one of these people, so why can’t we celebrate this on a day that includes all Australians?”

What do you think? Should Australia Day be changed to a more culturally sensitive date, to include all Australians? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

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Updated by Bethany Ramos on 1/27/2016


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