'Change The Date’, ‘Abolish The Date’, ‘Boycott The Date’, ‘Redefine The Date’ and ‘Business As Usual’ are some of the conversations we’re hearing in Community in response to the Jan 26 ‘Australia Day’ public holiday.
It’s important to note that these are not independent of each other, they’re often connected and overlapping.
We have tried to capture some of the different mindsets and approaches people have to this date. This is always evolving and changing.
CHANGE THE DATE
Those who support ‘Change the Date’ argue that January 26 is an inappropriate day to hold national celebrations. Advocates argue that ‘Australia Day’ should be for ‘all Australians’ and if we shift the date of ‘Australia Day’ to another time in the calendar, we can create an inclusive national holiday for all people in this country.
It recognises that the history of Jan 26 is painful for First Nations’ people and marks the beginning of genocide and invasion.
There is also a growing sentiment that Jan 26 does not represent the diverse and multicultural nature of our society who now call Australia home. Changing the date, represents the shared values of modern Australia and fosters a sense of unity and belonging for all people.
We won’t celebrate the date until the date celebrates all people.
ABOLISH THE DATE
Those who support ‘Abolish Australia Day’ advocate that changing the date is purely symbolic and only seeks to entrench harmful Australian nationalism.
First Nations people still face higher rates of child removal, incarceration, deaths in custody, economic exclusion, alongside lower life expectancy, health and education outcomes compared to non-Indigenous people.
The Referendum also exposed how deep the racism and white nationalism is in this country and for the first time, non-Indigenous Australians who wrote ‘Yes’ were also confronted with the reality of Australia, which does not support a First Nations voice.
Changing the date without the achievement of social justice and treaty, only moves the celebration of unfinished business to another date and won't have a tangible impact on the lives of Indigenous people.
Australia is still the only colony on the planet that celebrates the anniversary its own colonisation, as its national day.
“ Most countries celebrate the end of British subjugation, not the beginning of it. #invasionday” IndigenousX
BUSINESS AS USUAL
We are seeing more people essentially snub ‘Australia Day’ and treat the day as business as usual. This sentiment has evolved from the lack of political appetite, despite the increasing public outcry, to take any meaningful action around Jan 26 and change the date.
Rather than waiting for political leaders to show up, people are using their agency and many are substituting the ‘Australia Day’ public holiday - essentially ignoring the date and treating it as any other day. They are changing the date themselves so, they can have a public holiday they can enjoy!
Many sporting codes, businesses and local councils are also no longer recognising or referring to Jan 26 as ‘Australia Day’ and big corporations like Woolworth, Big W, Aldi & Kmart have publicly announced that they have ditched ‘Australia Day’ merchandise in store. There is a conscious effort to avoid all thing with an Australian Flag or even use the words ‘Australia Day’.
People will not celebrate Australia on the Jan 26 but, they will also not invest on the day in supporting First Nations people or causes.
REDEFINE THE DATE
Redefining ‘Australia Day’ reclaims the date Jan 26 and centres First Nations people.
In the absence of Government action, supporters of redefining ‘Australia Day’ refer to the day as ‘Invasion Day’, ‘Survival Day’ or as being a ‘National Day of Mourning’, reflection and truth telling.
Changing the name of ‘Australia Day’ acknowledge the impacts of colonisation on First Nations people and allows us to reframe what Jan 26 represents to First Nations people and decolonise the way we spend this date. It acknowledges the ongoing pain and trauma of colonisation and is an opportunity to educate wider Australia about this country’s true violent past.
Redefining the date encourages people to take further action that supports First Nations people justice and causes.
For example, we can encourage businesses like Woolworths, Kmart and Aldi to take the next step and stock Aboriginal businesses and support First Nations campaigns in their stores to educate their shoppers about Jan 26, rather than just pulling stock from their shelves.
BOYCOTTING AUSTRALIA DAY
‘Boycotting Australia Day’ is the first step towards ‘Abolishing Australia Day’.
Those that support ‘Boycotting Australia Day’ take strategic action to disrupt and delay colonial systems – Jan 26 is not ‘Business as Usual’. Like all public holidays, Jan 26 is an economic boost for Australia, so all actions that divest from the Australian Government are encouraged.
People are encouraged to be creative and show that they don’t support colonialism and ongoing genocide in Australia and beyond. Some ways of doing this is by supporting Blak businesses and by boycotting and divesting in major big businesses that aide and abet war crimes.
The aim is to create collective action that hits Government economically so they have little choice but to act accordingly.
Unlike ‘Change the Date’ people who support boycotting and abolishing ‘Australia Day’ believe that “Celebrating an illegal state built on genocide while condemning another is a contradiction. Our struggles are interlinked because our enemy is settler-colonialism.” (Jasper Cohen-Hunter)
We aren’t the experts, but we care about these causes and elevating Mob voices so we will continue to communicate what we’re are hearing and seeing from Community as best we can. If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please send email email@example.com