The 26th of January is a day of tragedy. For the First Nations peoples of our country ‘Australia Day’ is a continuous reminder of the destruction of their land, language, and culture. So why do we continue to support the celebration of our country on a date that is full of mourning?
As a nation we pride and base ourselves on traits of mateship and unity. However, the continuation of Australia Day being held on the 26th, alongside other prevalent social issues, displays a blatant disregard to the traditional owners of this land. Make no mistake, the 26th is an important historical day. Nonetheless, it should be one of reflection and remembrance rather than rambunctiousness and rowdiness. We can celebrate our country, but not on the 26th.
The preposition to change the date, as it has been named, is not a new idea. In more recent years the movement has gained traction, with petitions being signed and significant discussions being held surrounding the topic. Changes have already been made, with the Australian anthem being altered from the beginning of 2021. The lyrics changed from ‘young and free’ to ‘one and free’. This change formally acknowledged that Australia is indeed not a young country, with Indigneous Australians recognised as one of the oldest civilisations on earth. Some companies and business have also announced, that in support of changing the date, they are allowing their staff to select another date to relocate their public holiday and national celebration to.
There are many things that we as individuals can do, from signing petitions to endeavouring to learn more. With the Australian education system lacking adequate education on First Nations history and culture, it falls upon us to gain such knowledge. We can learn about the traditional owners of Bribie Island, the Jindoobarrie/Joondubarri people of the Gubbi Gubbi nation, and the connection they hold to the land.
The formal and political recognition of this date as Australia’s day of celebration displays a disregard to the generational pain felt by First Nations peoples on the 26th. Selecting a new date to recognise our national pride exhibits quintessential Aussie traits as we move forward and heal together as a unified country. A challenging past couple of years have clearly proven the importance of unified communities. The objective of Australia Day is to celebrate our success as a country and recognise achievements that we as a nation should be proud of. It remains impossible to celebrate such triumphs on a day that holds the remembrance of anguish and heartbreak for the traditional owners of this land. So, in the true Aussie spirit of mateship, we must all come together and celebrate our nation, just not on the 26th of January.