ANTaR and many people around the country don’t believe that January 26, which was only formally recognised as Australia Day in 1994, is an appropriate day for a national day of celebration. You can show your support by taking the Sea of Hands Pledge.
For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the date is a reminder of the pain and suffering of their ancestors, the invasion of their lands and enormous loss of life in the Frontier Wars, the massacres, and the intergenerational trauma that comes with that history.
On 26 January, First Peoples are not only being asked to move on from a past that continues to impact on their wellbeing, they are being asked to celebrate the day that the invasion of their lands started.
For that reason, January 26 can never be a unifying national day and it shouldn’t be beyond the Australian people to find an alternative.
At the heart of reconciliation is an acceptance of the history of past injustices to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and developing an understanding of what that means for how we live together today.
We can find a better, more inclusive and unifying date than 26 January. A date that involves the First Peoples of this country in a way that can be celebrated. It’s time that a genuine and respectful national discussion on finding an alternative began.
ANTaR is joining with others to campaign for change, and momentum is starting to build. In August 2017, Yarra Council in Melbourne voted to no longer recognise January 26 as Australia Day. Darebin Council followed a few weeks later. A few weeks after that, Chief Minister for the Northern Territory Michael Gunner called for significant changes to Australia Day, rightly noting that it was a date of mourning for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The list of local governments supporting chaning the date grows with Moreland Council (Vic) and Hobart City Council (Tas) rethinking our National Holiday.