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Australia Day 2022
The Australia Day public holiday falls at the end of our busy holiday season. As we think about getting back into the swing of work, school and the year ahead it is also a good day to reflect on how Australia Day means different things to different people, In today’s blog celebrant Sonia Collins looks at some of the issues surrounding our national day.
The National Australia Day Council on its website says
“Australia Day is a day to reflect what it means to be Australian, to celebrate contemporary Australia and to acknowledge our history. On Australia Day we celebrate all the things we love about Australia: land, sense of fair go, lifestyle, democracy, the freedoms we enjoy but particularly our people”.
On January 26, 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack in Sydney Cove to mark the beginning of the new colony of New South Wales.
The first official Public Holiday to commemorate the day on was on 26 January 1818 and must have been a welcome holiday from the usual daily tasks and a real day of celebration for emancipated convicts.
Celebrating Australia Day is important to many Australians with 13 million (over half the population) taking part in specific Australia Day celebrations. 16,000 new Australians become citizens and 3 out of 4 people believe Australia Day should recognise and celebrate the nation’s cultural diversity.
Photo credit: Matt Hrkac
There is however much to be done before the Australia Day holiday can be celebrated by all Australians. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose history as the traditional custodians of our beautiful land and waterways goes back over 65,000 years, 26 January has long been a symbol of the mourning and sorrow caused by “Invasion Day” in 1788. The immediate aftermath of settlement and many actions since then have greatly impacted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture.
The website https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day provides a range of information and Aboriginal perspectives on Australia Day and looks at a number of other dates that have been proposed as a national day.
You can find out more about the history of Australia Day, listen to stories from Australians of different ages and cultures and learn how the National Australia Day Council is working to make the national day inclusive of the stories and history of all Australians at https://australiaday.org.au/
If you are planning a ceremony this year – wedding, baby naming, anniversary or other celebration, talk to your celebrant from The Celebrants Network Inc about incorporating some of the history and culture appropriate to you and your guests and acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which you hold your ceremony.