Aboriginal Affairs

How ‘change the date’ activists saved Australia Day

The debate over Australia Day seems simple at first; Australia Day, the national holiday of Australia, is set on the same date as the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney. Some argue that this isn’t particularly representative of Australia; it honors the date of the establishment of a small British colony and thus doesn’t particularly hold any relevance to Australians of non-British ancestry. More pointedly, it is argued that the date is offensive to Indigenous Australians, because it is the date at which the colonization of Australia began, and thus was the precursor to several acts of injustice against the Indigenous Australian community.

In other words, the debate around Australia Day is really just an extension of the history wars: debates over positivist versus postmodernist methodology in history, and the overall issue of what might be called post-colonial guilt or white guilt. This debate of course has an impact on the Read the rest