Let’s unpack the Australia Day debate and look at alternatives


Our community is increasingly debating the merits of celebrating “Australia Day” on January 26th. There is a growing recognition that the particular date represents a significant negative for Indigenous Australians.  

Perhaps we should consider replacing “Australia Day” with the celebration of two important issues:  

Heritage Day (January 26), where we recognise and celebrate the wonderful range of cultures that now make up our Nations Peoples, including the many Peoples and cultures of our First Nations.  

Federation Day (May 9th - Opening of first Commonwealth Parliament) where we recognise the importance and privilege of living in a participative democracy.

What do you think?

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Lynn Wood @ 2021.01.26 2:30 AM
An excellent idea, particularly given our new Australian of the Year says it's easy to change the date of Australia Day.

ideaspy_09 @ 2021.01.26 9:46 AM

Changing the day won't achieve much. What's the end game here? No matter what date it is, we still have people whinging.

Also with a recent IPSOS poll declaring 28% want to change the date, where is the demand? 

Australia Day is meant to be celebrating unity and how far as a nation we've grown together. We can't change our past which is condemned, but we can't rewrite it either. 

Lynn Wood @ 2021.01.26 10:00 AM
Good points. I thought the same until the new Australian of the Year supported consideration of a change and Glenn suggested alternatives.

Bob Weis @ 2021.01.26 3:10 PM

I agree Glenn,

Sorry Day, or Invasion Day is another kick in the guts to a civilization that we or our forebears tried to extinguish and it is long past time to, not just with the date, put this to rights

Having a meaningful day to celebrate our democracy is another fine notion.

Bring them on.

Glenn Barnes @ 2021.01.26 3:52 PM

Hello, 09

I agree that ‘’changing the day’’ is likely to achieve little in terms of the complexity of the issues involved.

There appears to be little consensus over what Australia Day itself stands for. This is likely to continue while we lack a unifying vision of the type of nation we wish to be. This is an issue I have posted about on IdeaSpies before, and believe it needs to be addressed and resolved in a community-wide conversation.

In the near term, I have suggested a “change of celebration” for the January 26th date, rather than a change of date. A Heritage Day would allow us to recognise the richness of the different cultural backgrounds that make up our nation – and the painful historic journeys of many - be they indigenous peoples, holocaust survivors or part of our many refugee communities.

I also believe that we should celebrate our Federation, which has gifted us the privilege of living in one of the world’s best participative democracies. One that we have the power to make even better! As New Year’s Day is the anniversary of the creation of the Federation, I have suggested the anniversary of the first sitting of parliament, May 9th as a suitable and unfettered day for the celebration.

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