January 26, a National Day or Invasion Day for Australia?

Colonial British arrived in Australia on Jan 26

Australians are ambivalent towards its National Day or Foundation Day which also falls on Jan 26.

While Indians celebrate Jan 26, to commemorate the establishment of their Constitution in January 1950, Australians celebrate their National Day on Jan 26, because the colonial British arrived in Australia on Jan 26.

The day marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and the Union Flag being raised by Arthur Phillip, proclaiming British sovereignty.

MS Education Academy

The National Day celebrations have been continuing since early 1800s.

By 1935  Australia Day, was being celebrated all over Australia.  But soon after one also saw Indigenous Australians marking the day as Invasion Day.

The problem continued as people felt that aboriginals must be given a place in country’s identity. The National Day thus became a rallying point to remember the hardships felt by the Aboriginals under the Colonialists.

However, for long time now the Indigenous people of Australia have been holding it as Invasion Day, Survival Day to highlight the fact that the land of the indigenous people were taken away by the conquerors.

There is also a demand that the date be changed or it should not be celebrated but those who want the date changed are still in the minority. Many want that these celebrations should include more and more indigenous people and items, as all of them are part of Australia.

The problem actually arises from the fact that the Constitution of Australia does not recognise the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders, or the original occupants of Australia.

Even this 2023, large protests took place and marches were carried out from Parliament House to Federation Square and many other parts of the country.

The idea was to protest against Australia Day and highlight the alleged injustices faced by Aboriginal people.

The Aborgines want power and feel that they are the sovereign of the country as it is their land.

The problem would clearly be solved if the Constitution was amended with people voting that they want to recognise indigenous Australians in the Constitution.

At the time of framing of the Australian constitution by the European settlers the land belonged only to them and the  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were not considered as part of the new nation.

The original settlers are thus “missing” from the Constitution of Australia itself. It is only now to strengthen the country and its unity that amendments to the Constitution are being thought of.

The recognition it is felt will lead to greater unity, democracy and protect the right of all Australians sharing equally as citizens of the country reconciling all their differences.

Back to top button