On Australia Day you’ll most likely come across differing and passionate opinions about the day.
To help you feel confident to speak about the tough issues surrounding January 26, here are answers to the most common questions we’re asked.
1. What's the fuss about Australia Day?
▸ January 26 marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet and the start of British colonisation. Some people say this was the beginning of modern Australia, but for many Indigenous people, it was the start of losing land, culture and family.
▸ Colonisation might have started 230 years ago, but it continues to have a real impact today. That’s why some call it Invasion Day, Survival Day or Day of Mourning.
▸ What we do know is that this day is not a day of unity. It’s easy to fall into one of two perspectives; it’s become a two–sided debate with loud voices and many strong opinions.
▸ The question we need to be asking is how do we move forward together? There’s no simple answer; it’s going to take time, and people willing to listen to the perspectives of others. Understanding our shared story is a great place to start.
2. Why can’t they just get over it?
▸ We understand colonisation happened a long time ago, however, much of the injustice faced by Indigenous people is recent; for example, the Stolen Generations occurred up until the 1970s. This means there are people, who are only in their 40s today, who were taken from their families as children.
▸ When you learn the full facts about what happened, you’ll understand the pain isn't something that’s easy to ‘just get over'. It affects many aspects of life for generations. We see it in the devastating statistics relating to Indigenous people across a range of life indicators.
▸ Simply forgetting and 'getting over it' isn’t how we move forward. What’s needed is empathy; understanding our shared story is a good place to start.
3. Should we change the date or save the date?
▸ Changing the date is a quick solution that doesn’t truly address or acknowledge the trauma that still affects Indigenous people today.
▸ Learning more about the shared history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will make it easier for people to recognise the impact it continues to have today.
▸ If we simply make a choice and move on, we miss the opportunity to understand where we’ve come from, where we are today and where we go from here.
4. Can't I just celebrate our beautiful country without feeling guilty?
▸ It’s ok to want to celebrate this country! There’s a lot to be proud of.
▸ But, it’s important to also acknowledge January 26 is a painful day for many Indigenous people, and make an effort to understand why.
▸ It is possible to celebrate Australia Day AND show solidarity with Indigenous people. For example you could:
- Share an acknowledgement on your facebook profile
- Learn more about our history by watching SBS’s historical documentary First Australians
- Commit to having a conversation with someone about what the day really means for many Indigenous people
- Attend an event that celebrates Indigenous culture
5. What can I do?
▸ Listen to the stories of Indigenous people.
▸ Understand more about our shared story by exploring the Pride and Pain timeline.
▸ Share the Pride and Pain timeline on social media to help friends understand the issues around January 26.
▸ Visit our website for other ideas and suggestions for Australia Day activities.
▸ Share what you’re learning by starting conversations with friends and family.
Last updated January 2019 by Australians Together
The Stolen Generations
Between 1910-1970, many Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families.
The colonisation of Australia had a devastating impact on Indigenous people, who have lived on this land for thousands of years...
Understanding intergenerational trauma
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