Australia Day / Survival Day
26 January 2021 All day
In 2019 the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) joined calls for the date of Australia Day to be changed. They explained:
The 26th of January 1788 was not a day of celebration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nor was it for the passengers upon the first fleet – a mix of prisoners and military personnel. Perhaps it is time that we rethink the date upon which our nation comes together as one to recognise and acknowledge the gifts that God has provided in our great southern land.National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, 2019.
For the past year, those that sit upon the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council have asked their community, peers, friends and fellow Catholics if they celebrate Australia Day. The resounding response was no. That answer was not followed by hatred or vitriol, it was simply that they felt it was not meant for them nor was it mindful of the hurt experienced by Australia’s First People. For many, the opportunity to spend the day with family and friends is appreciated and our people understand and respect the pride that some Australians have for the day, however the foundation of unity and inclusiveness is just not there.
Celebrating our nation on a day that harbors grief, invokes painful memories and ignores the true history of our society just doesn’t make sense. Given that the day has been celebrated on various dates and under different names in the past 100 years, what will be lost by moving the date?
Key points from NATSICC’s statement:
- A majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics feel that Australia Day is not for them.
- NATSICC endorses the call to change the date of Australia Day and suggests 27 May as a starting point for conversation.
- A ‘True History’ educational program should accompany Australia Day to educate and promote understanding of the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Every Catholic School in Australia should teach this history.
- The next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are carrying lots of pain and anger because of things like Australia Day. Something must change!