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The Traditional Owners of this land are those who identify as
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Sovereignty was never ceded.

ANTAR pays respect to Elders past, present, and emerging through our dedicated advocacy for First Nations Peoples’ justice and rights.

ANTAR acknowledges the responsibility of committing to a truth-telling process that promotes an honest and respectful path forward for future generations to build upon.

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3 minutes

The Great Debate

Last edited: December 16, 2022

Every year, the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January causes more and more controversy, with an increasing number of Australians believing that 26 January is not the date to celebrate.

This has sparked a further conversation around changing the date vs abolishing the date, with some believing that changing the date only puts a bandaid on the issue, and doesn’t fully recognise the pain and suffering that British colonisation has inflicted upon First Nations peoples. Others believe that we are entitled to a day of celebration for the lifestyle we enjoy in Australia and achievements that have been made, however it should be changed to a different day rather than January 26. 

At ANTAR we believe that education and advocacy is the driving force for change. We stand with First Nations advocates who aim to educate all Australians on their perspective on changing or abolishing the date.

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson is a proud Bangarang woman who holds the perspective that a day of celebration for our country is extremely important and shouldn’t be ruled out altogether, however it should not be celebrated on 26 January. She is an advocate for young people being the driver of change, and has recognised that progress on changing the date has largely been made by the younger generations of Australia who seem to have a better understanding of the reasons behind the debate. She believes the concept is harder for older generations to grapple with because of what they may have learnt as children and young adults.

It’s always been a day of mourning for our people. It’s almost an insult to celebrate Australia on that day.

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson

Stan Grant, a proud Wiradjuri man and journalist and news presenter, shares a similar perspective which is displayed in his book Australia Day, written in 2019. Grant shares his mixed feelings towards this day, and admits that he sees the positive sides of celebrating power and belief in a Nation. However he also shares his negativity towards the day, describing this date as:

A reminder of a history of segregation, exclusion and brutality.

Stan Grant

Lidia Thorpe, a proud DjabWurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman and Australian Greens politician, believes that Australia Day should represent a day of mourning and healing for First Nations peoples. Thorpe is a strong advocate for truth telling about our countries violent History, and believes Australia Day can represent a day of respectful mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A Day of Mourning is not a new idea, but it is an important one.

Lidia Thorpe

Tom Calma is an advocate for Indigenous human rights and social justice. He believes that celebrating our National Day on 26 January only sets up Australia to be viewed as a Nation that supports the kind of racism and violence that took place during British colonisation, and therefore we must change the date.

It sets up European invasion as an important source of Australian identity and pride.

Tom Calma
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