For many, Australia Day is fraught with controversy, with indigenous Australians calling the date Invasion Day.
Australia Day has been a public holiday in Australia since 1994, commemorating the anniversary of British colonization.
While some will gather to celebrate, others will gather to protest the controversial day.
This is everything you need to know about the day.
When is Australia Day 2022?
Australia Day is celebrated annually on January 26 throughout Australia.
It wasn’t until 1935 that all Australian states and territories used the name Australia Day to mark the date, and it wasn’t until 1994 that January 26 became a public holiday across the country.
What is Australia Day?
According to the Australia Day website, the day is a time to “celebrate all the things we love about Australia: the land, the sense of justice, the way of life, the democracy, the freedoms we enjoy, but especially our people.”
The date marks the day that Captain Arthur Phillip, who was the commander of the UK’s 11 convict ships First Fleet, and the first Governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove and raised the Union Jack flag, signaling the beginning of the colony.
Australia Day was originally known as First Landing Day or Foundation Day.
Over the years, the reasons for celebrating Australia Day have changed and evolved, with the Australia Day website stating that today “Australia Day means different things to different people” and that ” Everyone is encouraged to recognize Australia Day in a meaningful way.” to them”.
It adds: “We recognize the important contribution everyone makes to our nation, from the First Nations people who have lived here for 65,000 years to our new citizens who call Australia home.
“Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate our cultural diversity and rich migrant heritage, which is a very important part of our unique Australian identity and has helped shape a nation proud of its strong and successful multiculturalism.
“Regardless of our origins or our background, it is a day for Australians from all backgrounds and communities to come together to share stories, embrace our diversity and celebrate our unity.”
How do Australians celebrate?
On Australia Day, there is a huge program of events planned to mark the day, including things like fireworks, outdoor concerts and performances, barbecues and sporting competitions.
On the morning of Australia Day, the WugulOra Morning Ceremony takes place, with an ancient smoking ceremony that “clears the way for new beginnings”. The WugulOra morning ceremony celebrates the world’s oldest living culture through dance, music and language.
A speech is also given on Australia Day, first delivered in 1997, and is described as a “celebration of thought, diversity of opinion and freedom of expression”. Traditionally it is distinguished Australians who are invited to deliver the speech.
This year, Dr. Daniel Nour, founder and director of Street Side Medics, delivered the Australia Day address.
Starting in 1960, on each Australia Day, the National Australia Day Council nominates a citizen of Australia as the Australian of the Year.
Winners are announced the day before, on January 25, and the 2022 Australian of the Year is named Paralympian and disability advocate Dylan Alcott.
Throughout his career as a wheelchair tennis champion, Alcott has won 15 Grand Slam titles in singles and another eight in doubles. In 2017, Alcott founded Get Skilled Access, a disability and accessibility training startup.
Alcott is also the founder of the Dylan Alcott Foundation, which provides scholarships and grants funds to Australians with disabilities.
Why is it controversial?
Australia Day is considered controversial as, for indigenous Australians, the day marks the beginning of the colonization and persecution of white people, which included massacres throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Australia Day celebrations are generally not welcomed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with many recognizing the day not as Australia Day but as Survival Day or Invasion Day.
common ground, a First Nations-run nonprofit organization, explains that this is because, “From this day in 1788 onward, First Nations peoples suffered massacres, land theft, stolen children, and widespread oppression of hands of the colonizing forces.
For many First Nations people, the date is a date of mourning, not celebration. When the First Fleet arrived, there were already around 750,000 people living on earth, with more than 500 indigenous groups.
However, by the 1900s, it is estimated that the indigenous population was reduced by 90%.
Modern Australia Day celebrations aim to be more inclusive of First Nations people, with the New South Wales (NSW) Australia Day Council saying it “recognizes that we live and work on Aboriginal land and acknowledges the strength, resilience and capacity of First Nations. Australians” and that the council “also recognizes all traditional land owners and respects First Nations elders past, present and future.”
The NSW government also adds that, together with the NSW Australia Day Council, it is “committed to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, elders and peoples on Australia Day activities. Australia’s day”.
Protests against Australia Day have been going on for hundreds of years and continue to this day.
Why shouldn’t you say ‘Happy Australia Day’?
While it may seem that saying “Happy Australia Day” is the equivalent of saying something like “Merry Christmas”, “Happy New Year” or “Happy Halloween”, it can be considered offensive, due to the day’s links to the massacre. and colonization of indigenous people.
Fallon Gregory, activist, model, influencer and Nyul-Nyul woman, said News EN: “To say ‘Happy Australia Day’ is to invalidate and dismiss the atrocities that occurred during, and since, the arrival, colonization and settlement of Australia.”
Cheree Toka, an Aboriginal activist, also said: “It is not a happy day for First Nations people. It is a day that resulted in mourning and sadness.
“The day the raising of the Australian flag on Aboriginal land destroyed our history and culture.”
Kado Muir, an advocate for Aboriginal culture, heritage and conscience, called the phrase “an ignorant gesture that belittles each one of us.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.