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What we get wrong about Australia Day

A smoking ceremony as part of Australia Day celebrations at Sydney Harbour. Picture: Supplied
A smoking ceremony as part of Australia Day celebrations at Sydney Harbour. Picture: Supplied

A MAJORITY of voters don't know why Australia Day is held on January 26 and wouldn't mind if the official National Day of Australia was moved to a different date.

New polling by Research Now also reveals that only about a third of Australians - 37 per cent - realise the date, which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, is offensive to Indigenous people because it represents the commencement of the British colonisation that led to the dispossession and persecution of Australian Aborigines.

Australia Day Concert 2017 at the Sydney Opera House. Picture: Supplied
Australia Day Concert 2017 at the Sydney Opera House. Picture: Supplied

The survey of 1417 people suggests that nearly all Australians - 84 per cent - think it is important that the country has a national day of celebration.

But 56 per cent say they are flexible about when the day occurs, challenging the assumption that Australians see January 26 as unchangeable.

2017 Australian of the Year Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim. Picture: Kym Smith
2017 Australian of the Year Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim. Picture: Kym Smith

Although recent Australia Day ceremonies aim to welcome and celebrate diverse members of the community with the Australian of the Year Awards and the Australia Day Honours list, the political and community debate about the "change the date" movement continues to intensify.

A man is arrested on January 26, 2017 during an Australia Day protest. Picture: Supplied
A man is arrested on January 26, 2017 during an Australia Day protest. Picture: Supplied

Indigenous Australian groups have referred to the date as "Invasion Day" and "Survival Day" and other groups have protested the celebrations, suggesting various measures from flag burning to moving Australia Day to an alternate date.

Topics:  aboriginal australia day australia day honours


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