It’s time to change the date of Australia Day. For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Australia Day (the day the British flag was first raised in what is now known as Sydney Cove) is not a day of celebration. Some people prefer to call Australia Day as Invasion Day, Day of Mourning or Survival Day.
We need to find a date that does not have such negative connotations for the people who were dispossessed over the years and centuries since the arrival of the First Fleet. We need a date that can help bring Australians together more successfully.
The day the six colonies federated to become the Commonwealth of Australia, 1 January 1901, is not a suitable day for fairly obvious reasons.
There are a range of dates we could use instead, including the opening of the first Federal Parliament (9 May) or the anniversary of the 1967 referendum which was a milestone in the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights (27 May).
Another potential date, that will hopefully come soon, is when Australia finally becomes a republic.
I’m quite proud of being Australian and there is much I love about our country, but that doesn’t mean I believe everything is fine and nothing needs to change. Changing the date of Australia Day would send an important message that we recognise that our treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, historically and in the present, needs to be addressed.
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