Protesters take part in an Invasion Day march through central Brisbane. As the nation marks this day as Australia Day, indigenous groups and their supporters refer to it as Invasion Day or Survival Day. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Protesters take part in an Invasion Day march through central Brisbane. As the nation marks this day as Australia Day, indigenous groups and their supporters refer to it as Invasion Day or Survival Day. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Australia Day won’t be the same until we change the date

Every year I see more and more of my social media friends joining the virtual chorus of voices calling to change the date on which we celebrate Australia.

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*Damning sign Australia Day is quickly 'crumbling'

*LETTER: Why we should change the date of Australia Day

And every time the 26th of January rolls around, as thousands march and protest for changing the date (mostly) peacefully in capital cities across the country, it seems that Australia Day festivities are getting more and more subdued.

Intentionally divisive words and actions will never get us anywhere.
Intentionally divisive words and actions will never get us anywhere.

I've never understood why so many remain so staunchly against changing the date, and I'm yet to hear many well-reasoned arguments.

What harm does it cause? And more importantly, what is the big deal with making a move to ensure ALL Australians feel comfortable celebrating their country, instead of just some?

"Because it's tradition."

Well guess what? Change the date, give it a few years, and you have a new tradition. And a much better tradition, because our day of celebration isn't simultaneously causing Indigenous Australians considerable pain.

There are two clear sides to this debate. And the side who have to endure painful reminders of genocide and rank injustices committed against their ancestors while watching people drink beers and get rowdy in the name of patriotism all around them have much more grounds to be upset than the other side.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at The National Australia Day Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony, Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at The National Australia Day Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony, Canberra. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The reluctance to do something constructive about this issue is causing more harm and division every year, and it will only get worse.

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It also gives people like Barclay McGain more opportunity to spout lines such as "Great day to be a patriot" and "One person's arrival is another's invasion".

Intentionally divisive words and actions will never get us anywhere.
Intentionally divisive words and actions will never get us anywhere.

Then there's our dear PM, who did nothing other than take a petty swipe at Cricket Australia and argue that January 26 "wasn't a flash day" for those on the First Fleet vessels.

From a leader, that is just embarrassing.

This year I saw one of my friends post "There is no healing without accountability and acknowledgment".

Maybe it's time to stop squabbling, acknowledge January 26 for what it is and be accountable for our words and actions.

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