Indigenous views on Australia Day

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia. It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove.  In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation.

But what does the day mean to the indigenous people of Australia?

To some, it's a day to celebrate the country. For others, it's a day of sadness.

Bronwyn Carlson of the University of Wollongong says, “Australia day for indigenous Australians is thought of in quite a different way, so we think of Australia day as more of invasion day or survival day or a day of mourning.”

The celebration day originated from when the British ships arrived on the shores of Australia.

But today, the celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation.

According to some of the indigenous people of Australia, the date should be changed because the history behind the celebration is still painful and to others it's a reminder that there's a bigger issue to address.

Carlson says, “Changing the date does not necessarily change all of those facts and so another one of our great activists Celest Little reminds us that changing the date just merely gets you to celebrate colonization on a different day. So what we need to do is really address Australia’s history and that’s not being done in this country.”

Bronwyn says that because of access to social media, it has helped indigenous cultures all over the world to express their thoughts. Indigenous cultures now have a connection and we can stick together and support each other on issues like this.

“We have a close relationship with Maori as indigenous Australians and I work with a Maori colleague as well and yeah totally support the day as invasion day, totally reject the whole beer guzzling barbecue and celebrating the festive lands and life and support indigenous Australians. So you do see Māori at Yaban Festivals and protesting in the street as well,” says Carlson.

Bronwyn says she will be celebrating the fact that her people are still here and are still fighting strong.